Reigning Olympic champion Argentina booked a World Basketball Championship quarter-final date with Turkey and Lithuania will meet Spain after a revenge-fueled victory yesterday.
NBA star guard Emanuel Ginobili scored 28 points while his San Antonio Spurs teammate Fabricio Oberto added 23 points and 10 rebounds to power Argentina's 79-63 victory over New Zealand.
"We performed well," Ginobili said. "Now it's the start of the world championship."
In Argentina's path for a semi-final berth on Tuesday will be Turkey, which defeated Slovenia 90-84 behind 24 points from Serkan Erdogan, a guard with Tau Ceramica of the Spanish league.
"They are a dangerous team. You don't let them do the things they want to do. They come at you inspired," Ginobili said. "The next game is the one we were playing for. It's the semi-finals or nothing. We knew in any situation we would win this game. To win the next one means we're going to have to be focused."
Lithuania edged Italy 71-68, avenging a 2004 Athens Olympic semi-final loss. The Italians made only 1-of-8 free throws in the final 7.8 seconds to cost themselves a berth in the final eight.
"We had unfinished business. They took away our medal from Athens," said Lithuania forward Linas Kleiza of the NBA Denver Nuggets. "It feels good."
Lithuania reached a Tuesday quarter-final against Spain.
Today's round-of-16 games from the opposite bracket find the US NBA stars facing Australia, Germany playing Nigeria, France meeting African champion Angola and European champion Greece taking on Asian champion China.
Ginobili scored six points in a 14-4 Argentina run early in the third quarter for a 51-35 lead and the Tall Blacks, led by US college standout Mark Dickel's 14 points, never moved within reach again.
"Even though we won by 17, they played good," Ginobili said. "They lost Fabricio a little bit. He was only averaging seven points in the first five games and today he exploded for 23. We have a deep team. We have a lot of guys who can do that."
New Zealand, a surprise fourth at the 2002 worlds, lost coach Tab Baldwin. The American announced his resignation after the Tall Blacks were eliminated.
"It was a difficult decision but I think it's time," Baldwin said. "I think the best thing now is to hand the mantle to someone else who can do the job that needs to be done in the future."
NBA guard Arvydas Macijauskas led the Lithuanians with 15 points as they defeated a nemesis that also beat them at the 2000 Olympics and 1998 world championship.
"They always win. They're always one of the better teams," said Lithuanian NBA standout Darius Songaila of Chicago, who added 12 points. "We knew they would be tough. We knew when we played them we would all be keyed up."
Macijauskas, a guard for the New Orleans-Oklahoma City Hornets, scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to lift Lithuania, aided by woeful Italy free throwing at the finish and Angelo Gigli knocking a rebound into his own basket.
In the last two seconds, Marco Belinelli missed two free throws and Gianluca Basile blew three more to seal Italy's fate.
Turkey 90, Slovenia 84
Serkan Erdogan scored 24 points as Turkey advanced with a 90-84 victory over Slovenia.
The Turks will face reigning Olympic champion Argentina in Tuesday's quarter-final.
"It's our hearts, our courage. We're not scared of anybody and we're being rewarded," Erdogan said. "This is a great victory. Now we get to play the biggest team in the world."
Slovenia, with four NBA players in the lineup, had won their only two prior games against Turkey but fell for the first time thanks to an inspired effort from Erdogan, a standout shooting guard for Spain's Tau Ceramica.
NBA San Antonio Spurs guard Beno Udrih hit a three-pointer, the last of his team-high 18 points, with 3:00 remaining to give Slovenia an 81-77 edge.
But Turkey responded with the next 11 points, nine from Erdogan, including three three-pointers, to knock Slovenia out in their worlds debut.
"We did everything we could," Udrih said. "We gave our everything. They beat us fair. We can't argue. We can't look back. We just have to look forward and take the experience."
Edrogan connected on 6-of-9 shots, including a pair of late three-pointers, even though he had been trying to work teammates open for shots instead of taking them himself.
"We weren't playing to shoot threes. It was a reaction. It's natural. You can't plan out those things," Erdogan said. "I was playing to get somebody else open. But when I took the ball I was open and I took the shot and I made the threes. It felt really wonderful."
Slovenia made only 21-of-35 free throws and only 24-of-48 from the field.
"We missed a lot of free throws. We shot terrible," Udrih said. "That was a lot of it."
Turkey's Ibrahim Kutluay played despite an ankle injury but teen forward Ersan Ilyasova missed the game with a calf problem.
Spain 87, Serbia 75
Pau Gasol scored 19 points and pulled down 15 rebounds to lead Spain past defending champions Serbia and Montenegro 87-75 yesterday for a place in the quarter-finals.
The victory sets up a last eight clash on Tuesday with a dangerous Lithuanian side led by New Orleans-Oklahoma City Hornets guard Arvydas Macijauskas.
Superstar Gasol, a 2.13m center with the Memphis Grizzlies, drove his team to victory in an powerful and determined display.
The Toronto Raptors point guard Jose Manuel Calderon contributed 13 points while Orlando Magic center Darko Milicic top scored with 18 and 15 rebounds for Serbia.
Spain have never won a world championship medal but their young and talented team is seen as the best roster in their history and beating Lithuania could set up semi-final showdown with Olympic champions Argentina.
An aggressive first period from Spain saw Cauldron bag 10 points and two assists while the bearded Gasol scored five with five boards to put them 20-10 ahead as the Serbs struggled to find their groove.
The Spaniards started the second quarter with a long three-pointer from Rudy Fernandez and ended it with Calderon converting three free throws for a 43-31 lead. Gasol added another nine.
A spectacular alley oop from Rudy Fernandez in the third quarter helped them to a 14-point cushion going into the final stretch.
The Serbs -- boasting New Jersey Nets center Henad Krstic, Cleveland Cavaliers small forward Aleksandar Pavlovic as well as Milicic -- got to within seven points at one stage but couldn't close the gap further.
Spain are now unbeaten in six games here.
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant will make a whirlwind 24-hour visit to Taipei on Sept. 7, Nike Taiwan announced at a press conference on Friday.
Bryant, who will be visiting Taiwan for the first time, will meet 4,000 fans in the National Taiwan University Gymnasium, where he will conduct a short basketball clinic, Nike Taiwan general manager Roxanne Chiu said.
Bryant will meet the local media at a press conference and will leave for Seoul the next day, she said.
Taiwan will be the third stop for Bryant on his Sept. 4 to Sept. 9 Asia Tour, which also includes Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Beijing.
He is not expected to put on an extensive demonstration at the clinic as he is still in rehabilitation following knee surgery last month.
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