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Argentina remains undefeated with overtime win vs. Brazil

Aug 30, 2007 - 3:50 AM LAS VEGAS (Ticker) -- Argentina showed why it is the defending Olympic champions on Wednesday night.

Trailing by double digits in the second half of its FIBA Americas Championship second-round game against Brazil, Argentina persevered in the fourth quarter and overtime for an 86-79 victory at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Luis Scola of the Houston Rockets, and guard Leonardo Gutierrez each had five points in overtime, including a 3-pointer by Gutierrez with 2:33 to play to give Argentina the lead for good.

"It was satisfying to beat a very good Brazil team," Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez said. "When things weren't good, we stayed together and showed patience."

Scola scored 23 points, Gutierrez added 19 and Carlos Delfino of the Toronto Raptors netted 17.

Argentina (6-0) qualified for the semifinals on Tuesday and Hernandez has repeatedly said his team is not concerned with the results from its final second-round games, Wednesday's win against Brazil and Thursday's showdown with the United States.

Well, that was before its competitive juices took over.

Argentina trailed by 17 points in the second half before hanging in and securing the victory. According to Scola, an embarrassing loss would have been unacceptable.

"We are here to compete without regard to the standings," Scola said. "We played two games today. The first half, we played with no heart or passion. In the second half, even though we were losing, we were playing better."

Brazil (3-3) has dropped three of its last four games, but it is still in position to reach the semifinals. A win Thursday in its final second-round contest against Uruguay will send it to the next stage of this Olympic qualifier.

Two squads will emerge from the semifinals with automatic berths to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

"We are not looking back. We are only focusing on Uruguay," Brazil coach Aluisio Ferreira said. "Brazil is not looking ahead to the semifinal. It is only looking at Uruguay."

Marcelo Machado had 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and Leandro Barbosa of the Phoenix Suns added 17 points. Nene of the Denver Nuggets collected 10 points and 12 rebounds.

The team leader and star player for Brazil, Barbosa was on the bench in foul trouble during Argentina's second-half surge.

"When he picked up three fouls, I had to protect him," Ferreira said. "But it also was part of the regular rotation. I have no regrets about doing that."

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