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Argentina, Mexico advance to the Olympic qualifier semis

Luis Scola, Michael Nicks

Luis Scola, Michael Nicks


MEXICO CITY (AP) Luis Scola scored 16 points to help Argentina beat Panama 84-57 on Monday to remain undefeated and became the first team to progress to the Olympic qualifier semifinals.

Jorge Gutierrez, a point-guard who plays for Milwaukee, scored a basket with 8.9 seconds to play and Mexico rallied from an 11-point deficit to defeat Venezuela 73-70 to remain undefeated and also qualified for the semis.

Andres Nocioni added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Argentinians, who are trying to qualify for their fourth straight Olympics.

Argentina still has two games left to play in the second round against Dominican Republic and Mexico but secured its spot in the semifinals with 10 points.

Michael Hicks scored 15 points for Panama.

Gutierrez finished with 20 points and seven rebounds, Gustavo Ayon added 14 points and 11 rebounds for Mexico, looking for its first Olympic berth since Montreal 1976.

Andrew Wiggins scored 18 points as Canada won its fifth straight by beating Uruguay 109-82. Six more players finished with double digits in points, including Andrew Nicholson with 15 and 10 boards, Nik Stauskas with 14 points and Brian Heslip with 13 points.

Canada needs another win on Tuesday against Mexico to secure a place in the semifinals.

“We have grown as a team and we know that we are deep and that if we need to go to the bench we are going to be fine,” Canada coach Jay Triano said. “I told the guys to play as hard as they can because they guy behind the starter can come in and do the same. I don*t know how many teams here can do that, not only for one game but in the whole tournament.”

Argentina and Mexico lead the tournament with 10 points, Canada has nine, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic seven each, Puerto Rico and Panama have six and Uruguay is last with five.

The top two teams will get berths to Rio in 2016. The teams finishing from third to fifth will qualify for the 2016 FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament, set to be played on July 4-10.

Also on Monday, Jose Juan Barea had 37 points to give Puerto Rico a 98-92 victory over the Dominican Republic to keep its hopes alive to finish in the top five of the tournament in pursuit of its first Olympic berth since 2004 in Athens.

“I*m proud of this team because the players are tired, they are beaten buy they keep fighting and we*re on the hunt for that fifth spot,” said Puerto Rico coach Rick Pitino. “We have a chance to qualify and we are going to everything possible to achieve that goal”.

Francisco Garcia scored 25 points for the Dominicans, who are still alive in the fight to qualify for the semifinals, but they need to win their last two games and help from other teams.