BUENOS AIRES, AUG. 15 -- At this writing, it seems likely that four more quarterfinal games will be successfully completed today in the World Basketball Championships. Never mind the scores -- at this rate, just getting the games played is an accomplishment.

Where are the buses? Where are the locker rooms? For that matter, where are the teams, several having been stashed away at hotels that the guide books would charitably call "modest."

Argentina, fundamentally a soccer kind of place, is straining mightily to host this 16-team hoops extravaganza. Not only is the game slightly alien -- all around Buenos Aires it is common to see kids playing soccer on outdoor basketball courts that haven't seen a basketball in years -- but tournament organizers must also contend with a stubborn economic crisis that makes everything just a little harder to pull off.

"Terrible," said Efthimis Kioumourtzoglou, coach of the Greek team, when asked about the tournament logistics. "We don't even like to think about that."

Kioumourtzoglou's squad arrived early, at the beginning of the month. Things went downhill from there.

"Nothing is ever on time," he said. "We never know when the bus will come, where it will take us, when we can practice, where we can practice. We're very disappointed."

Tournament organizers had booked the Greeks into a small, out-of-the-way hotel that Kioumourtzoglou found "just impossible." At its own expense, the team moved to the pricey Sheraton, which at least functions.

The U.S. team was luckier, having been at the Sheraton from the start. But, like the Greeks, they had to play all their first-round games on the other side of town, which meant hour-long bus rides in the chaos of Buenos Aires rush-hour traffic.

There does not exist in Argentina a single Capital Centre-style arena suitable for basketball. The closest thing is 9,000-seat Luna Park in downtown Buenos Aires, an aging auditorium more often given over to noisy political rallies and rock concerts. Outfitted with a new floor, Luna Park is hosting the quarterfinal, semifinal and final games.

But politics dictated that there had to be at least one tournament site outside the city limits, in Buenos Aires Province. So the United States, Greece, South Korea and Spain -- instead of playing their first-round games at Luna Park, within walking distance of all the downtown hotels -- had to make the trek to a distant suburb called Villa Ballester to play in the German Society's spotless but tiny auditorium.

The United States and Canada both wanted to host the 1990 championships, but Argentina won out four years ago when the International Basketball Federation made the site decision. That victory was largely the result of wheeling and dealing by Amadeo Cejas, then head of the Argentine Basketball Federation, which by all accounts he ran like a fiefdom.

Cejas eventually was eased out and the federation found itself obliged to stage a $6 million show -- at a time when $6 million is major money in Argentina.

The several hundred reporters who have come to witness the championships have encountered, simply, a nightmare. Many were required to put up a $250 deposit to reserve a spot, and now, in seeking to get that money back, are encountering Argentine bureaucracy at its finest.

Press rooms have been set up at all the sites, but they exist more in name than anything else. Out at Villa Ballester the first few days, none of the telex machines worked, only one of the three faxes worked, and regular telephone connections were hampered by labor problems at the state telephone monopoly Entel.

"Things work better in Albania!" one Spanish correspondent screamed as a technician tried unsuccessfully to jury-rig a connection that would let him plug in his laptop. What he said after losing half a story and having his communications software erased is not printable -- in any language.

For better or worse, however, Buenos Aires is for these few days the center of the basketball world. And so it has attracted that world's denizens, like Golden State Warriors Coach Don Nelson, who would like to coach the U.S. Olympic squad in 1992, when it seems likely NBA players will be eligible. Nelson is in town scouting the potential opposition.

"I don't think I'd better comment on the arrangements," he said. "I don't want to get myself in trouble."

One player has caught his eye -- Toni Kukoc of the Yugoslavian squad, a 6-foot-9 forward who moves like a guard and can do it all. "He could be a major player," Nelson said.

"Everybody likes him {Kukoc}," said Ray Dalmau, coach of the strong Puerto Rican squad. "The one thing is that he's a lefty and does everything with the left. He switches to the right hand to dribble and then boom, right back to the left. But if he ever works on his right, everybody's in trouble."

Strange conversations like that fill the air in Buenos Aires these days. Next week everyone will get back to talking about players who dribble with their feet, as God intended.