SAITAMA (FIBA World Championship) - Argentina stormed into the semi-finals of the FIBA World Championship with a dominating 83-58 victory over Turkey.
Andres Nocioni led the way for Sergio Hernandez's side with 21 points while Luis Scola added 13 and Carlos Delfino contributed 14 off the bench.
With the victory in their first international clash against Turkey, the Olympic champions set up a semi-final with Spain, who beat Lithuania 89-67 earlier in the day.
"Some games, you have a good match-up against you, others you don't," said Argentina guard Manu Ginobili, who scored seven points. "I believed before the game that Turkey was a great match-up for us. But Spain is the opposite."
"We never let them get comfortable or receive easy passes and that was our strategy. Nevertheless, we cannot forget that this Turkish team is a great team with a lot of talent," said Nocioni, who added six rebounds in just 19 minutes of work.
Hernandez was pleased with his team's performance, especially on the defensive end.
"Before the game, we thought it would be more difficult. In the first half we had our best defensive display of the Championship. We had easy points and played with a great mentality on offense," he said.
"We had a lot of patience and were always able to find easy shots. And you know Argentina players. If they get shots with no defense, they can kill you. I think it was our best game in the FIBA World Championship. Turkey is a great team with a great mentality, but we played our best game and that's why the winning margin was 25 points."
The Turks have already guaranteed their best-ever showing at a FIBA World Championship after finishing ninth in 2002. Cenk Akyol scored 11 points in a losing cause while Serkan Erdogan added 10.
"This has been a great tournament for us. We have played very well until today. We went up against one of the best teams in the world, and we didn't play like we should have against them and we lost heavily," Erdogan said.
"But now we have another goal and that's to finish fifth in the tournament. So we have to bounce back from this tragic loss and we'll see. I hope we play well."
Bogdan Tanjevic added: "There's nothing to say because it was an easy game for our opponent. They are a great team with a good coach, good players who enjoy playing the game on both ends."
Argentina were never threatened by Tanjevic's young Turkish side, holding them to 37% shooting for the game, forcing 16 turnovers and holding the Europeans to just seven points in the second quarter.
The South Americans ran away to victory, with their biggest lead at 75-39 on Delfino's free throw with less than a minute to go in the third.
By that time, Hernandez had cleared his bench and given most of his starters the remainder of the game off to rest for the Spain game.
Nocioni started the scoring after the opening tip with a three-pointer, and his jumper with 6:32 left in the first quarter gave Argentina an early 11-3 lead. Akyol's three-pointer with 4:34 to go gave Turkey a 14-13 advantage but that was short-lived.
Scola and Nocioni combined for nine points in Argentina's 11-3 spurt to close the first quarter as they lead 25-16.
Argentina reached their first double-digit lead at 30-20 before Delfino scored nine points in a 13-3 surge for a 43-23 advantage going into the locker-room.
That lead jumped quickly to 30 points in the third period in a 15-5 run finished by Ginobili's three-pointer with 5:34 remaining. The advantage grew to 36 just before the third quarter ended at 75-40.
Argentina scored just eight points in the fourth quarter, but Turkey couldn't take advantage as they needed the final four points of the game just to pull within 25 points - the closest since late in the third period.
Spain own a 5-1 record against Argentina, including a victory against the South Americans at the 2004 Olympics.
By David Hein