9:43 PM Aug 1
By JIM O'CONNELL
AP Basketball Writer
(AP) -- Predrag Danilovic guaranteed Yugoslavia at least a silver medal
when he scored 19 points Thursday night in a 66-58 victory over
Yugoslavia (7-0) will face the winner of the United States-Australia
game for the gold medal on Saturday. With the Dream Team in the field,
silver is the medal everyone else was chasing.
Yugoslavia assured it in the most intense game of the men's Olympic
basketball tournament. And it was defense that did it for the silver
medalist in 1988, which was banned from the 1992 Games by United Nations
sanctions. Lithuania (4-3) did not score over the game's final 3:22.
Rimas Kurtinaitis, the 36-year-old hero of the Soviet Union's gold medal
in 1988, had a tremendous game for Lithuania with 22 points on 5-for-7
3-point shooting. His two free throws with 3:22 left made it 58-58.
Then Danilovic, who plays for the Miami Heat, had six of Yugoslavia's
points the rest of the way.
The celebration started with 15 seconds to play after Yugoslavia
rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Sarunas Marciulionis. Danilovic stood
near midcourt jumping up and down and screaming at no one in particular.
When the buzzer sounded, the Yugoslav players jumped on each other as if
they had won the gold.
Yugoslavia, Lithuania and Croatia were considered the favorites to win
the other two medals. Croatia lost to Australia in the quarterfinals and
can finish no better than seventh. Lithuania, at best, can match the
bronze it won in Barcelona four years ago.
Aleksandar Djordevic added 16 points for Yugoslavia, while Vlade Divac,
who plays for the Charlotte Hornets, had nine points and eight rebounds.
Kurtinaitis kept Lithuania within 35-31 at halftime by scoring 15
points. His NBA teammates -- Marciulionis of the Denver Nuggets and
Arvydas Sabonis of the Portland Trail Blazers -- didn't play nearly as
Sabonis had 14 points on 6-for-15 shooting and 13 rebounds, while
Marciulionis was 2-for-9 from the field and finished with five points.