RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Argentina’s players locked arms and danced in a circle near mid-court. In the stands, their fans were just warming up.
Dressed in blue and white, they sang, shouted and even cried together. This was an Olympic moment to savor.
Beating Brazil, on its home court, is as good as it gets for Argentina.
Facundo Campazzo made two 3-pointers to open the second overtime and three free throws in the final minute, leading Argentina to a thrilling 111-107 win Saturday over Brazil in a men’s basketball game that had it all.
The matchup between the South American neighbors – and bitter rivals – didn’t disappoint as the teams went back and forth for 50 exhausting minutes, trading leads, baskets and big moments.
“We wanted it to be a big basketball party, and it was,” said Argentina captain Luis Scola. “We had to win, somebody has to win, somebody has to lose, but I think people enjoyed. It was quite a show.”
Argentina forward Andres Nocioni made a 3-pointer that tantalizingly Sambaed on the rim before dropping with 3.8 seconds left to force the first overtime. Brazil’s Leandro Barbosa went on a blurring, nine-point scoring binge in the second OT, and Manu Ginobili, Argentina’s balding, beloved basketball icon, came up with a big offensive rebound in the final seconds and made two free throws to seal a win that only adds to his legacy as one of his country’s “Golden Generation.”
“Unbelievable game,” said Ginobili, a four-time NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs. “The rivalry is amazing, but sometimes it doesn’t mean that the games are like this. Today was ridiculous.”
When the final horn sounded, Ginobili hugged Scola and they wrapped their arms around the 5-foot-11 Campazzo, who buzzed around the floor like a humming bird. The two-time Olympian finished with 33 points, 11 assists, four rebounds and four steals. He may not always make the smart play, but the 25-year-old Campazzo made more big ones than any other player.
“I do want to kill him a lot of times,” Scola said playfully. “I think everybody does.”
Nocioni, who played five seasons with the Chicago Bulls, finished with 37 points for Argentina, which improved to 3-1 in the tournament’s brutal Group B, which includes Spain, Lithuania and Croatia.
The Argentinians have their sights on a medal to go with their gold from Athens in 2004 and bronze from Beijing four years later.
Nene scored 24 with 11 rebounds to lead Brazil, which fell to 1-3 and isn’t assured of advancing to the quarterfinals.
Down by eight late in the fourth quarter, Argentina rallied and tied it when Nocioni launched a 3 from the left corner that hit the rim, bounced off the backboard and touched the rim two more times before falling through. Nene went up to try to swat the ball off the rim – legal in international competition – but the NBA player’s delayed reaction cost him.
Brazil appeared to have control in OT, taking a 94-88 lead with less than three minutes left, but Campazzo scored twice and Nocioni hit one of his eight 3s as the Argentinians pushed it to a second extra session.
Argentina went up by seven early in the second OT, but Barbosa brought Brazil back and pulled the hosts within 109-107.
Guard Carlos Delfino could have put it away, but missed both free throws with three seconds left. Ginobili, though, bailed him out by running down the loose ball before he was fouled.
It was a double-dose of defeat for Brazil on Saturday as their women were beaten 79-76 in two overtimes by Turkey.
Olympic officials beefed up security on the Olympic Park in preparation for the game pitting bordering countries who share a passion life and for sports but have been at odds for centuries.
In hopes of keeping their fans from fighting, Scola and Brazil captain Marcelinho Huertas addressed the crowd before the game, urging them to respect each other.
Scola didn’t want an ugly, violent scene like the ones that have plagued soccer matches.
“It’s not the place for that,” he said. “It’s a place for families, a place for friends. It’s a place to have fun, and we wanted to just stop it. Obviously we can’t stop it, but we tried to encourage people to have fun. We want them to come, we want them to scream, jump, celebrate, cry if they want to.”
And for more than two hours, that’s what they did.