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Rio de Janeiro • The USA Basketball Invitational is looking less exclusive as the tournament moves into the quarterfinals Wednesday.
After the American team wobbled with three victories that required a full 40-minute effort, a gold medal no longer appears automatic for the team that will face Argentina to begin the knockout stage.
Raul Neto's Brazilians have been eliminated, but the other three Jazz players in the Olympics have medal hopes in a wide-open tournament. "Absolutely, it's anyone's game, and I think that's been proven," said Australia coach Andrej Lemanis.
The Boomers, with Jazz guard Joe Ingles and former University of Utah center Andrew Bogut in the starting lineup, started the trend by extending the USA in a 10-point loss last week. Then came Serbia and France, which each lost by three points. If the margin against France was somewhat misleading, thanks to France's last-second 3-pointer, so was the spread vs. Australia, which led in the fourth quarter before fading in the last two minutes.
The Aussies would like their chances in a rematch for the gold medal, but they have to get there. They will meet Lithuania in the quarterfinals, their usual stopping point in the Olympics. "The quarterfinals are where you earn your money," said Bogut, who's averaging 13.0 points and 5.8 rebounds.
With a front-loaded preliminary schedule, Australia rested Bogut or Patty Mills in the last two games, putting the team in "the best possible position," Bogut said.
France also would like another shot at the Americans, but the team needs a healthy Tony Parker against Spain possibly the hottest team in the field. Parker sat out Sunday's loss to the USA with a bruised foot. Considered a strong medal contender, Spain opened the tournament with losses to Croatia and Brazil by a total of three points, then beat Nigeria by only nine points before exploding with wins of 50 points over Lithuania and 19 points over Argentina.
Jazz forward Boris Diaw is averaging 8.4 points and 4.6 assists for France and center Rudy Gobert is contributing 5.4 points and 6.4 rebounds. Gobert blocked a total of 10 shots in France's first three games, but none in the last two games.
The USA (5-0) was the only unbeaten team in group play, but looked vulnerable in allowing 88, 91 and 97 points in the last three games. Argentina needed a late, tying 3-pointer in regulation of an eventual double-overtime win over Brazil on Saturday, ultimately enabling the team to advance.
The USA-Argentina winner is bracketed with the France-Spain winner; the Australia-Lithuania and Croatia-Serbia winners will meet in Friday's semifinals.
Down the stretch
Wednesday's quarterfinal schedule (times MDT):
Australia vs. Lithuania, 8 a.m.
France vs. Spain, 11:30 a.m.
USA vs. Argentina, 3:45 p.m.
Croatia vs. Serbia, 7:15 p.m.