Basketball: Argentina to face U.S. in last eight

Tue Aug 16, 2016 12:06am EDT
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By Steve Keating

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Croatia beat Lithuania 90-81 in the final preliminary round game of the Olympic men's basketball tournament on Monday, vaulting from fifth to the top of Group B and avoiding a nightmare quarter-final clash with the unbeaten United States.

Instead, Argentina have drawn the short straw and will face the daunting task of taking down a U.S. team riding a 22-game Olympic win streak in their quest for a third straight Olympic gold medal.

The other quarter-finals, which will all be played on Wednesday, feature a spicy matchup between Serbia and Croatia, a tip-off between old foes Spain and France and a contest between Australia and Lithuania.

While the U.S. (5-0) finished group play as the only unbeaten team, their performances have, thus far, not won rave reviews.

After a pair of blowouts over China and Venezuela to open the Olympic tournament, the U.S. received a wakeup call in the way of narrow three-point wins over France and Serbia, followed by a battling 10-point victory over Australia.

But for all their struggles, no one is ready to down grade the Americans from their lofty position as gold medal favorites.

"I still think they are the favorites for sure to win gold," said Argentina's veteran shooting guard Manu Ginobili. "But after what happened the last two or three games, there are some doubts.

"We know that but we still don't want to play them, we prefer to avoid them because of their athleticism, their talent.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Basketball - Preliminary - Men's Preliminary Round Group B Spain v Argentina - Carioca Arena 1 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 15/08/2016. Alex Abrines (ESP) of Spain and Nicolas Jose Brussino (ARG) of Argentina in action. REUTERS/Jim Young