AP WAS THERE: 2004 Athens Olympics

FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2004, file photo, USA's Allen Iverson (4) walks off the court as Argentina's Emanuel Ginobili celebrates at the end of their semifinal basketball game at the Olympic Indoor Hall during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2004, file photo, USA's Allen Iverson (4) walks off the court as Argentina's Emanuel Ginobili celebrates at the end of their semifinal basketball game at the Olympic Indoor Hall during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File) (AP2004)

EDITORS — With the Tokyo Olympics postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, The Associated Press is looking back at the history of the Summer Games. This story was transmitted in 2004 from the Athens Olympics.

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Bronze is the best the American men’s basketball team can do, and the reason is simple: They were beaten by a better team, Argentina.

Manu Ginobili scored 29 points to lead his nation to another victory over the country that used to dominate the sport, an 89-81 win in the Olympic semifinals Friday night.

For the first time since 1988, the gold medal will not go to the Americans. And for the first time since pro players were added for the original Dream Team in 1992, the United States will not be the Olympic champion.

Argentina, with almost the same roster that made history in 2002 by becoming the first team to defeat a U.S. squad of NBA players, will compete for the gold medal against the winner of Friday’s late game between Lithuania and Italy.

The Argentines were the better passers, shooters and defenders. They confronted the Americans with a mixture of man-to-man and zone defenses, and confounded them with an assortment of back picks that turned the start of the second half into a layup drill.

Argentina’s players celebrated wildly when the game ended, and the crowd yelled ``Ole!″ U.S. coach Larry Brown walked over and gave a handshake and hug to his Argentine counterpart, Ruben Magnano, who played for Argentina against the first Dream Team in Barcelona.