SAITAMA, Japan — Luis Scola walked off the court with the game ball under his arm, a souvenir from quite possibly his international finale.
Australia walked off the court with a different souvenir in mind.
Patty Mills scored 18 points, Australia used a 25-0 run in the second half to turn a close game into a complete runaway, and the Boomers beat Argentina 97-59 on Tuesday night in the fourth and final men’s quarterfinal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Next up for the Boomers: The U.S. in Thursday’s semifinals, with the winner headed to the gold-medal game.
“Obviously, we’ve had kind of one goal in mind — to win a gold medal and leave here with that,” Australia’s Joe Ingles said.
Australia gave up 22 points in the first 10 minutes; it allowed 26 points in the next 25 minutes and wound up outscoring Argentina 58-26 after halftime.
The 41-year-old Scola, a five-time Olympian, wasn’t planning to announce his future on Tuesday. But an emotional scene in the final minute left him strongly hinting that this was the end of his international career.
“It’s been fun,” Scola said. “It’s time for new faces to show up. It’s time for us to go.”
He finished with seven points, checking out with 51.4 seconds left and getting a lengthy ovation — even from the Australian players. Scola waved in acknowledgment as blue-and-white spotlights in a nod to Argentina’s colors flashed in the arena, and the ovation continued until he stood and waved again.
“I feel pretty confident being able to say that this might be my last Olympics,” Scola said.
Matisse Thybulle and Jock Landale each scored 12 for Australia, which got 11 from Ingles and 10 from Nic Kay. The Boomers — who have never medaled in Olympic or World Cup competition — will play the U.S. in the semifinals on Thursday. Australia beat the Americans in an exhibition last month, but is 0-15 all-time against the U.S. in Olympic or World Cup matchups.
That said, the Boomers’ confidence right now is obvious.
“We’ve put ourselves in a really good position,” Australia’s Dante Exum said.
Nicolas Laprovittola scored 16 and Gabriel Deck added 12 for Argentina, which went 1-3 in Tokyo. Argentina was within 54-48 with 2:07 left in the third quarter after a 3-pointer from Nicolas Brussino, legitimately seeming like it had a chance of pulling off the upset.
Not for long. Argentina missed its next 11 shots, and by the time it scored again the deficit had soared to 31 midway through the fourth.
Argentina led by eight early, but the hurrahs ended there. A 19-4 run that covered most of the second quarter put Australia up 37-28. The Boomers wouldn’t trail again, and simply ran away in the final 12 minutes.