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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | BASKETBALL

Yugoslavia Earns a Dream Matchup

August 02, 1996|Times Wire Services

Few semifinal victories have ever set off a celebration like Yugoslavia's 66-58 victory over Lithuania, which guaranteed Yugoslavia at least a silver medal in the men's Olympic basketball tournament.

Yugoslavia (7-0) will face the United States for the gold medal Saturday.

"The Dream Team is the 99.9% favorite," said Yugoslavia's Vlade Divac, who plays for the Charlotte Hornets. "But we're not going to give up until the last buzzer of the game. We'll give our absolute best."

It was the most intense game of the tournament and it was defense that did it for Yugoslavia, which won the silver medal in 1988 and was banned from the 1992 Games because of United Nations sanctions. Lithuania (4-3) did not score in the game's final 3:22, while Sasha Danilovic made four free throws and scored the game's final basket on a drive with 31 seconds left.

Rimas Kurtinaitis, the 36-year-old hero of the Soviet Union's gold medal team in 1988, had a tremendous game for Lithuania with 22 points.

In other games, Brazil held off Croatia, 80-74, and Greece outclassed China, 115-75, in classification-round games to earn the right to play for fifth place.

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Yamilet Martinez scored 23 points and Milayda Enriquez grabbed 17 rebounds Thursday to lead Cuba to a 78-70 victory over Italy in the consolation semifinals of the women's tournament.

Cuba (3-4) will play Russia for fifth place on Saturday. Russia beat Japan, 80-69.

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