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2016 Olympic Men’s Basketball: Day Two Recap

In a sometimes wild Sunday of Olympic men's hoops, Lithuania held off a Brazil rally, Croatia upset Spain and Argentina cruised past Nigeria in Group B.

2016 Olympic Men’s Basketball: Day Two Recap

Game 1: Lithuania 82, Brazil 76

Lithuania let a 30-point lead evaporate, but hung on to beat host country Brazil in Sunday’s Olympic men’s basketball Group B opener.

Paulius Jankunas and Mantas Kalnietis each sank a pair of free throws in the game’s final 17 seconds to preserve a win that seemed inevitable until Brazil made a furious comeback late in the third quarter.

The Lithuanians led 68-40 with 3:43 left in the third until a 13-2 Brazil spurt pulled the score to within 18. Suddenly scorching from the field, the Brazilians opened the fourth quarter with a 19-5 run that made it 75-71 with 2:04 left to play.

Then, Lithuania finally gathered itself when center Domantas Sabonis, the 11th pick in June’s NBA Draft, completed a three-point play to increase his team’s lead to 78-71 with 1:17 left.

In a fit of bizarre strategy, Brazil opted not to push the pace on offense or press or foul immediately on defense, though down just seven points in the game’s final minute. Instead, its offense ground to a halt until Leandro Barbosa knocked down a jump shot from the right wing to make it 78-73. On the ensuing possession, Brazil allowed Lithuania to get down the floor and set up its offense with little resistance, until Nene’ Hilario fouled Jankunas with three seconds left on the shot clock and just 17 left in regulation. Jankunas’ free throw makes all-but put the game away.

The Standouts

Lithuania (1-0, 2 points) had five players score in double figures, led by Kalnietis’ 16 points and Jankunas’ 15. Sabonis looked uneven but showed flashes of his NBA potential, scoring 10 points. Barbosa led all scorers with 21 points, while Nene’ finished with 16 and eight rebounds for Brazil (0-1, 1 point). Point guard Raul Neto had 15.

Game 2: Croatia 72, Spain 70

Dario Saric’ block of Pau Gasol’s shot attempt at the final buzzer sealed an upset victory for Croatia Sunday.

With 1.8 seconds left, Sergio Rodriguez inbounded the ball to Gasol from under the basket. Positioned on the left block, Gasol attempted a jump hook. Saric closed in and swatted the ball away from the rim with his right hand. After the buzzer, his teammates rushed the court to celebrate the come-from-behind win.

Spain took the lead early and maintained control throughout the game, even as Croatia continued to make shots to stay within striking distance. Spain led 38-32 at halftime and, despite an 11-4 Croatia run to end the third quarter, led 54-47. Croatia chipped away at the deficit until a Luka Babic dunk gave it a 57-56 lead.

The lead changed eight times over a nearly five-minute stretch of the fourth until Darko Planinic and Krunoslav Simon scored on consecutive possessions to give Croatia a 69-67 lead. Simon made a pair of free throws to make it 71-67.

Nicola Mirotic pulled Spain to within one when he drained a 3-pointer from the wing, but Saric made a free throw with 12 seconds left and finished off Spain with his key block.

The Standouts

Brooklyn Nets forward Bojan Bogdanovic was sharp from distance for Croatia on a night where the team shot just 25 percent from the arc. He finished with a team-high 23 points and shot 5 of 7 from three. Planinic had 11 points and six rebounds, and Saric, close to starting his NBA career in Philadelphia, finished with five points, five assists and seven boards.

Spain shot 45 percent from the field, but Gasol and Mirotic were excellent, scoring 26 and 19 points, respectively. Croatia had virtually no answers for Gasol’s skilled post game, as he shot 11-17 from the field and even 3-4 on 3-pointers and pulled down nine rebounds. Rodriguez had 10 points and seven assists.

Game 3: Argentina 94, Nigeria 66

Argentina led by as many as 29 points in its blowout of Nigeria Sunday night.

Nigeria shot 39 percent from the field and an abysmal 16 percent from beyond the arc, and were unable to cut the deficit to fewer than 24 points in the second half. In addition to the poor shooting night, it committed 21 turnovers and was outscored 11-0 on fast breaks.

Argentina shot 46 percent from the floor and featured five double-figure scorers. The 3-pointer was a vital part of the team’s offense, as it shot 15 of 34 from distance compared to Nigeria’s 4-25. The Argentines won the rebounding battle by a narrow 44-38 margin, including a 13-8 advantage on the offensive glass.

The Standouts

Point guard Facundo Campazzo scored a game-high 19 points for Argentina and added five assists and five steals. Patricio Garino had 15 points and six rebounds. The veterans also delivered, as Manu Ginobili and team captain Luis Scola scored 18 and 12 points, respectively. Scola also led the team with nine rebounds.

Nigeria team captain Ike Diogu posted a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Coming Tuesday: Group B

Spain (0-1, 1 point) vs. Brazil (0-1, 1 point), 1:15 p.m.

Lithuania (1-0, 2 points) vs. Nigeria (0-1, 1 point), 6 p.m.

Argentina (1-0, 2 points) vs. Croatia (1-0, 2 points), 9 p.m.

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