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Argentina Reaches Final of World Basketball Championship Tournament - 2002-09-07

Undefeated Argentina has reached the final of the World Basketball Championship tournament in the mid-western U.S. state of Indiana. Argentina will face the winner of the other semifinal between defending champion Yugoslavia and New Zealand.

Argentina grabbed the early lead Saturday. But Germany came back to grab a five point advantage by halftime. Germany led for much of the second half before Argentina overcame an eight point deficit in the closing minutes and battled hard under the basket as it pulled out an 86-80 victory.

Argentine coach Ruben Magnano says emotions drove his team as his players overcame fatigue and their German opponent. "I think this has been the hardest game we have played," he explained. "I am confident we won because of our big heart rather than for a tactical game."

Hugo Sconochini led Argentina with 18 points while Dirk Nowitzki of the National Basketball Association's Dallas Mavericks had a game high 24 points.

According to German coach Henrik Dettmann, his players lost focus in the crucial closing minutes. "We gave up too many points at the end of the game," he said. "We started to get too excited about scoring baskets instead of stopping opponents from scoring. It hurts to lose, but against a team like this, you have to be able to accept it."

Germany will play for the bronze medal. In earlier action, Turkey claimed ninth place with an 91-86 victory over Russia, which places tenth. Angola won the 11th place game over China, 96-84. China finishes 12th.