Argentina vs Lithuania: What We Learned in International Showdown

Michael DulkaContributor IJuly 29, 2012

Argentina vs Lithuania: What We Learned in International Showdown

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    Argentina beat Lithuania 102-79 on the first day of the men's Olympic basketball tournament. Luis Scola led the Argentines to victory with his strong performance of 32 points, six rebounds and three assists. Argentina's "Big Three" of Scola, Manu Ginobili and Carlos Delfino was too much for Lithuania to handle.

    The game was close after the first quarter, the Argentina up just one point 24-23. Argentina used a 27-16 second quarter to separate themselves and extended that lead in the third and fourth quarters. 

    The victory places Argentina atop the Group A standings with the United States and Nigeria. Argentina is likely to advance and has a good shot at the No. 2 seed from the group. 

Argentina Is a Medal Contender

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    While Argentina looked dangerous against Team USA in an exhibition game leading up to the games, they don't have enough on their roster to beat the Americans. They may not be the favorites against Brazil or Spain, but they are capable of beating those teams if they play well. 

    While gold is likely out of the question, they could be slotted for the bronze medal game. If that's the case, they have a decent shot of pulling it out. They may not be medal favorites at this point, but they certainly are contenders. 

Lithuania Is Still a Sleeper

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    While Lithuania doesn't have the firepower to be considered with the top teams in the Olympic tournament, they still have enough to once again be a dangerous sleeper. Against Argentina they played well for stretches, but looked outmatched throughout the game. They will need to be much better all-around to be that dangerous sleeper.  

    It will tougher than recent years without much of a three-point game for Lithuania. They went into the fourth quarter 3-for-5 from beyond the three-point line, but finished the game at an underwhelming 3-for-10. It didn't help that Argentina shot 11-for-27 from the three-point line. 

Argentina's Final Chance

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    This current group of Argentina players have seen a huge amount of success since they won gold in the 2004 Olympics. Four years ago, they won bronze. This year they will compete for a medal, but it's hard to imagine this Argentina team having enough talent to contend at the 2016 Olympics. 

    Manu Ginobili will be 39 years old, Luis Scola will be 36 years old and Carlos Delfino will be 33 years old. The future of the country's success will likely depend on the development of soon-to-be New York Knicks point guard Pablo Prigioni.  

Argentina's Pablo Prigioni Still Has a Ways to Go

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    While Pablo Prigioni got the start against Lithuania, he's far from being one of the team's top options to score or even handle the ball for much of the game. Instead, Manu Ginobili dominated most of the ball while Delfino, Scola and Ginobili took the majority of shots.

    Prigioni was a threat from downtown, hitting 3-of-4 on his way to nine points in the game. He finished with four assists, two steals, one rebound and only one turnover.  

    Prigioni definitely has some flash and his potential shines through, but he still has a ways to go in order to be a quality NBA point guard. He has the benefit of learning from Jason Kidd right now and that should help his game grow in many ways.  

Luis Scola Is a Force

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    Lithuania didn't have an answer for Luis Scola as he dominated the game with 32 points on 12-of-19 shooting. He finished 8-of-13 from the line and recorded six rebounds and three assists on the day. Scola started as the Argentines biggest player and sure played like it.

    Scola's 32 points was second only to China's Yi Jianlian, who finished with 35 in China's 97-81 loss to Spain. Argentina will need Scola to maintain his dominance as they continue on in group play and into the knockout rounds.