Argentina 98, New Zealand 94

Saturday, August 21st 2004, 9:42 am
By: News On 6

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ Luis Scola scored 25 points and Manu Ginobili added 19, leading Argentina past New Zealand 98-94 on Saturday and into the Olympics men's basketball quarterfinals for the first time since 1952.

Argentina (3-1), which finished fourth in the Helsinki Games, didn't get to the round of eight in either of its other two Olympic appearances.

New Zealand (1-3) almost made Argentina wait another two days to get in this time.

Behind the 3-point shooting of Pero Cameron, New Zealand turned a 90-84 deficit with four minutes to play into a one-point game with 1:08 left.

Argentina scored the next five points from the free throw line to seal the victory. The last two, by Fabricio Oberto, came with 5.3 seconds to play.

New Zealand closes preliminary round play Monday against unbeaten Spain, which has already clinched first place in Group A. A loss would make New Zealand unlikely to reach the quarterfinals, although there are some scenarios involving three other teams that could still get it in.

Scola, a reserve, made 9-of-10 shots. Ginobili was 7-of-13, hitting two 3-pointers for Argentina, which closes pool play against Italy.

Cameron, who at 6-foot-7 and 287 pounds looks more like an offensive lineman than a small forward, scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, including four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Two 3s came in the final minute, one bringing New Zealand within 91-89, the other 93-92.

Phillip Jones had 25 points for New Zealand, which trailed Serbia-Montenegro by seven with four minutes to go in its last game before rallying for a 90-87 victory.

The 30-year-old Cameron has been invited to training camp as a free agent by the Detroit Pistons.