Argentina ready to face Team USA

Aug 30, 2007 - 4:20 PM By Matias Greco Special to PA SportsTicker

LAS VEGAS (Ticker) - Argentina has been playing so well at the FIBA Americas Championship that it believes it might be good enough to upset Team USA on Thursday night.

Both sides have already secured a place in the semifinals with six wins and no defeats, but Argentina nevertheless is desperate to play well and win.

"We'll play with 100 percent of our level," Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez said. "We want to win it."

"Despite knowing Thursday's game is not crucial, we have to show what Argentina's level is," shooting guard Paolo Quinteros said. "It will be a message for the rivals we'll play in semifinals."

One message their rivals will already know is that even without a host of NBA stars like Manu Ginobili, Fabricio Oberto, Andres Nocioni and Walter Herrmann, Argentina will not roll over and die.

Against Phoenix Suns guard Leandro Barbosa and Brazil on Wednesday, Argentina fell behind by 17 points but battled back to win, 86-79.

Although beating the United States would be great, the game that really matters for Argentina is Saturday's semifinal because the winner will qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

Quinteros, who now gets a lot of the minutes that once went to Ginobili, has already declared the semifinal matchup the biggest game he will be apart of.

"On Saturday, when we play the semifinal, it will be the most important game in my career, even though I have played in league finals with my teams," he said.

"We are talking about the qualification to the Olympic Games. It's the whole country that is supporting us."

It will be a highlight for another reason.

"If I can play and defend against Kobe Bryant or anybody else, it will be an incredible moment for me," Quinteros said.

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