USA stunned in 92-73 opening loss to Puerto Rico
Tim Duncan has 15 points and 16 rebounds in loss
Tim Duncan has 15 points and 16 rebounds in loss

Posted Aug 16, 2004


USA (0-1) was stunned 92-73 by Puerto Rico (1-0) Sunday night in opening preliminary round play at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Puerto Rico took full advantage of the USA's 3-of-17 shooting in the second quarter to outscore the Americans 28-to-7 and take a commanding 49-27 lead to the locker room at halftime. The U.S. men, who lost for just the third time in 112 Olympic games, the last time coming 26 games ago in the 1988 semifinals to the USSR, will return to action Tuesday against Greece.

"I'd like to congratulate Puerto Rico. They played as a team. They were well prepared, their coaching was incredible. They played so much harder than we did, so much better as a team. The result is no surprise because when you do that, that usually happens," USA mentor Larry Brown said.

"From our perspective the only thing we can do is to find out what we're made of. This is a great opportunity for a group of guys to get together and figure out what it means to truly be a team. I’m anxious to see if we'll be able to do that," Brown added.

The U.S. led only briefly, 9-7 and 11-10 with 3:57 to play in the opening stanza, and after one quarter Puerto Rico held onto a narrow 21-20 lead.

Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) scored with 9:20 left to cut the lead to 24-22 , but Puerto Rico went on an 11-0 run over the next 2:08 to move ahead 35-22.

USA center Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs) stopped the run with a hoop at 6:18 and after he scored inside with 3:32 left before half the Americans were down 39-27. The U.S. did not score again in the quarter as Puerto Rico reeled off ten consecutive points to end the first half

USA made just 11-of-35 (31.4 percent) shots from the field and one-of-13 from 3-point range in the first half. They also had 12 turnovers. Puerto Rico was 16-for-29 (55.2 percent) from the field overall, including 4-of-8 from 3-point.

The USA trailed 65-48 after three quarters and to cut the lead to eight at 69-61 with 6:11 remaining after Tim Duncan made a pair of free throws.

But Puerto Rico and Utah Jazz guard Carlos Arroyo, with the shot clock running down, banked in a 3-pointer with 5:56 to play. "That was a lucky shot. I wasn't trying o get a bank shot there, but it went in and that was a very important basket for us," said Arroyo of the 3-pointer.

Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers) scored at the other end to keep the U.S. within nine, 72-63, but Rolando Hourruitiner dropped another 3-pointer in with 5:13 to go to push the lead back out to 75-63. Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers) made his only 3-pointer on the night to cut the gap to 75-66, but Arroyo completed a three-point play to up the advantage to 78-66. Richard Jefferson (New Jersey Nets) made one of two free throws to keep the USA within 11, 79-68, with 2:42 to play, but Arroyo scored at 2:22 to lead Puerto Rico on a game-sealing 9-0 run.

Duncan finished with 15 points, 16 rebounds (11 offensive), five steals, four assists and two blocked shots in 36 minutes. Iverson added 15 points, Odom, who shot 6-of-7 on the evening, added 13 points, and Wade finished with 10 points.

Arroyo led Puerto Rico with 24 points (9-16 FGs) and seven assists, while Eddie Casiano finished with 18 points after sinking 4-of-4 from 3-point, and Larry Ayuso ended with 15 points.

The U.S. shot 26-for-75 overall and was 3-for-24 from 3-point. The Americans outrebounded Puerto Rico 46 to 27, but finished with 22 turnovers.

In Sunday's other opening day games, in Group B, Lithuania (1-0) held off Angola (0-1) 78- 73, while host Greece (1-0) posted a 76-54 win over Australia (0-1). In Group A action, Italy (1-0) narrowly upended New Zealand (0-1) 71-69, Spain (1-0) handled China (0-1) 83-58, and in the day's most exciting contest, Argentina (1-0) secured an
83-82 win over Serbia & Montenegro (0-1), but only after San Antonio Spurs guard Emanuel Ginobili scored as time expired.

The USA men continue their preliminary play in the 2004 Olympics on Tuesday, Aug. 17 facing host Greece at 10:15 p.m. (all times listed are Athens local times), Australia on Thursday, Aug. 19 (2:30 p.m.), Lithuania on Saturday, Aug. 21 (8 p.m.), and the U.S. concludes its preliminary play facing Angola on Monday, Aug. 23 (2:30 p.m.). Quarterfinals play is slated for Thursday, Aug. 26, with semifinals action being held on Friday, Aug. 27 and the final games to determine first through eight places are slated to be played on Saturday, Aug. 28.

 



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