Argentina is Team USA's toughest test

Originally Published: August 24, 2004
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
Stephon Marbury found his star power Thursday, and Team USA scored it's most impressive win of the Olympics, beating Spain 102-94.

Marbury, who had scored just 21 points in his first five games for Team USA, scored 31 and hit 6-of-9 from behind the 3-point arc as the U.S. out-shot and out-rebounded the previously unbeaten Spanish team.

The Americans were 12-for-22 on 3-pointers after shooting a tournament-low 24 percent in their first five games. Gasol, who had 29 points in the game, said Team USA will be tough to beat if it keeps shooting the ball and playing with the passion it displayed Thursday.

"They were very good on 3s. That was something new in this tournament," Gasol said. "They looked motivated, and it'll be hard to beat them if they keep playing like that."

Can they keep it up? Next up is Argentina, the first team ever to beat a U.S. national team consisting of NBA players. Argentina stunned the U.S. in the 2002 World Championships and is one of the favorites to medal in Athens.

Spain was a good match-up for Team USA for a number of reasons. Despite Spain's dominance in the prelims, it played more of a power game than most European teams and was anchored by Gasol, a player with whom Team USA and Larry Brown are familiar. Spain, too, had struggled throughout the tournament from 3-point range and shot a disappointing 30 percent from behind the arc against the U.S. That was the difference Thursday.

What's next for Team USA? Here's a breakdown of Friday's semifinal game vs. Argentina and a look-ahead to either Lithuania or Italy, should the U.S. advance.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer