Manu Ginobili scored 29 points to lead his national team Argentina to a victory over the USA team that used to dominate the sport of basketball in the Olympics in 2004.
While the United States showed distinct signs of continued improvement, they were up against a classy opponent who sensed the chance for another memorable coup. The South Americans led by five points at half-time and widened that lead to 13 points by the end of the third quarter. The Americans closed the gap slightly but the match ended 89-81 to Argentina and the era of American dominance on the Olympic stage was over.
And for the first time since pro players were added for the original Dream Team in 1992, the United States was not an Olympic champion.
“We fought as hard as we could. We couldn’t get it done for whatever reason. They were a better team than us,” Allen Iverson said.
The Argentines were better passers, shooters, and defenders than the Americans. They confronted them with a mixture of man-to-man and zone defenses and confounded them with an assortment of back picks and deft passes that turned the start of the second half into a layup drill.
Argentina, with almost the same roster that made history in 2002 by becoming the first team to defeat a U.S. squad of NBA players. The final pitched the jubilant Argentines against Italy. It was a tight match, in which Argentina took an early lead before Italy fought back to draw level, with the two teams trading points thereafter. In the closing minutes, two three-pointers from Alejandro Monteccio helped Argentina to open up a decisive lead, and they clinched an 84-69 win. After their humbling of the reigning Olympic champions, Argentina had won a much-deserved gold and they celebrated their moment with unfettered jubilation.