Defending champion Argentina falls to Lithuania
BEIJING - Manu Ginobili's 19 points weren't enough as defending Olympic champion Argentina stumbled to a 79-75 loss to Lithuania in its opening Group A match yesterday, setting off celebrations among the raucous, flag-waving Lithuanian section in the 18,000-seat Basketball Gymnasium.
In what had been a tight game, Ginobili and his teammates were nearly shut down in the third quarter as Lithuania ran up a 51-45 lead. Ginobili and forward Luis Scola were restricted to just 2 points each in the period.
Argentina rallied and, with 2:40 left, Ginobili sank a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 4. Quickly regaining possession, Ginobili bounced a 3-pointer off the rim that was buried by guard Carlos Delfino to make it a 2-point game, and with less than 90 seconds left, his pass connected with Scola inside the paint for the layup to tie the score.
But with 2.1 seconds left in regulation, Linas Kleiza nailed a 3-pointer and captain Ramunas Siskauskas drilled a free throw to pull off the win.
Kleiza led Lithuania with 13 points. Delfino scored 13 for Argentina.
Elsewhere in Group A, Andrew Bogut was held to just 10 points as sharp-shooting Croatia romped to a 97-82 win over Australia.
Pittsburgh-born Robert Holden scored 19 points to lead Russia to a 71-49 win against Iran. Russia scored 19 unanswered points to take a 24-5 lead in the tournament's opening game.
In Group B, Rudy Fernandez scored a game-high 16 points and Pau Gasol added 11 to lead Spain to an 81-66 win against Greece. The rematch of the 2006 World Championship title game, which Spain won, 70-47, was close through the second quarter. But Spain opened a 16-point lead in the third period (62-46), quieting the singing, bass drum-banging Greek fans who brought a little atmosphere to the Stadium.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 23 points as Germany overwhelmed Angola, 95-66. Chris