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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | BASKETBALL

Lithuania Tops Croatia in Two Overtimes, 83-81

July 21, 1996|Associated Press

Rimas Kurtinaitis scored nine of his 12 points in the second overtime and Lithuania prevailed, 83-81, over Croatia in a game of attrition.

The game was the opener for both teams in the men's tournament and also a meeting of the two best teams after the United States in Pool A. It lived up to its billing as the top matchup of the early rounds.

Kurtinaitis, one of the heroes of the Soviet Union's gold-medal victory in 1988 and a member of Lithuania's bronze-medal winners at Barcelona four years ago, had a four-point play with 2:57 left to give Lithuania a 78-77 lead. He hit a three-pointer with 1:09 left that gave his team an 81-80 lead.

Dino Radja of the Boston Celtics made one of two free throws with 31 seconds left to give Croatia its last tie, and the 36-year-old Kurtinaitis ended the scoring by making free throws in the final 30 seconds.

The loss offset a brilliant 33-point performance by Croatia's Toni Kukoc, who played with white tape on his broken left thumb, his shooting hand.

Kukoc, a member of the NBA champion Chicago Bulls, singlehandedly kept Croatia in the game in the second half, scoring 19 of its 35 points in the second 20-minute period.

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The last of Oscar Schmidt's 45 points came on a three-point play with 17 seconds left, giving Brazil a 101-98 victory over Puerto Rico.

Schmidt, 38, playing in his fifth Olympics, made three free throws with 1:06 to play to tie the score, 98-98.

On its next possession, Brazil worked the 30-second shot clock down to the final ticks and Schmidt banked a driving shot high off the backboard and was fouled by Richard Soto.

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Yugoslavia closed its 71-63 victory over Greece with a 15-5 run and avoided the first upset of the men's tournament.

Considered one of the medal favorites, Yugoslavia looked to be in serious trouble when Vlade Divac, the 7-foot-1 former Laker center, picked up his fourth personal foul with 11:09 to play.

Zeljko Rebraca, who replaced Divac, scored consecutive baskets to give Yugoslavia the lead for good at 60-58 with 2:05 to play.

*

Wang Zhi-Zhi had 17 points and 11 rebounds to lead China to a 70-67 victory over Angola. In its first game four years ago, Angola lost to the original Dream Team, 116-48.

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Australia opened the tournament with an 111-88 win over Korea. Former Seton Hall star Andrew Gaze scored 26 points and Shane Heal added 23 for Australia.

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