x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Olympics: USA Dream Team gain revenge after heated contest with Argentina

The US basketball team confirmed their place in the quarter-finals against Australia after an ill-tempered 126-97 defeat of Argentina.

Kobe Bryant goes between Argentina's Manu Ginobili and Facundo Campazzo during their basketball clash at London 2012
Kobe Bryant goes between Argentina's Manu Ginobili and Facundo Campazzo during their basketball clash at London 2012

LONDON // US basketball star Kobe Bryant admits a 'cheap shot' on one of his teammates by Facundo Campazzo inspired them to a 126-97 defeat of Argentina and close in on an Olympic medal.

Campazzo made the mistake of angering the NBA stars, bumping Carmelo Anthony in the groin as the New York Knicks playmaker was shooting late in the third quarter.

The Argentine apologised afterwards, but Bryant said the incident had spurred the 'Dream Team' on to a comprehensive win which secured their 5-0 record in Group A.

"It was inappropriate," he said afterwards. "He knows he was wrong. He socked Carmelo in the nuts when he was shooting the ball. You can't do that.

"To his credit, he said 'it was my fault' and that was it."

The Americans kept stretching the margin as large as the final score, a sign that not all was forgiven.

"It gave us a lift. It got us going," Bryant said. "[Kevin Durant] got hot. But it all started from that."

Argentina matched the Americans blow-for-blow in a pulsating first half, trailing 60-59 at half-time.

But the Americans outscored them 42-17 in an incredible third quarter in which the red-hot Durant hit five three-pointers from increasing distance.

LeBron James scored seven quick points including a huge three to power them into a 67-62 lead before Durant hit the first of five quick-fire three-pointers that carried the United States out of sight.

A huge shot from well outside the arc made it 85-68 midway through the quarter and his fifth of the period made it 93-74 with 1:52 left in the period.

When Carmelo Anthony's three made it 102-76 to end the third, Argentina seemed to take exception and several players clashed at midcourt, leading to technical fouls against both teams.

"This has been the second game in a row that team played as close," Durant said afterwards.

"We got a lot of team confidence with that but we don't want to get cocky."

The result finalised the bracket for Wednesday's quarter-final round. The United States will play Australia, Argentina take on South American rivals Brazil, Spain meet France and Russia play Lithuania.


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