LAS VEGAS (FIBA Americas Championship) - Argentina have been playing so well at the FIBA Americas Championship that they believe they might be good enough to upset Team USA on Thursday night.
“We’ll play with 100% of our level,” said Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez. “We want to win it.”
Both sides have already secured semi-final places with six wins and no defeats, but Argentina desperately want to play well and win, though.
“Despite knowing Thursday’s game is not crucial, we have to show what Argentina’s level is,” said shooting guard Paolo Quinteros.
“It will be a message for the rivals we’ll play in semi-finals.”
One message their rivals will already know is that even without a host of NBA stars like Manu Ginobili, Fabricio Oberto, Andres Nocioni and Walter Herrmann - Argentina will not roll over and die.
Against Phoenix Suns guard Leandro Barbosa and Brazil on Wednesday, Argentina fell behind by 17 points but battled back to win 86-79.
The game that really matters is the semi-final on Saturday because the winner will qualify for the Olympics.
Quinteros, who now gets a lot of the minutes that once went to Ginobili, said: “On Saturday, when we play the semi-final, it will be the most important game in my career, even though I have played in league finals with my teams.
“We are talking about the qualification to the Olympic Games. It’s the whole country that is supporting us.”
It will be a highlight for another reason.
“If I can play and defend against Kobe Bryant or anybody else, it will be an incredible moment for me,” he said