Manu Ginobili's off-balance shot left his hand just a split-second before the final buzzer, dropping through the basket to give Argentina a thrilling 83-82 victory over Serbia and Montenegro on Sunday on the first day of Olympic men's basketball.
While Argentina's players mobbed Ginobili, Serbia and Montenegro's coach protested that the shot came after the buzzer. But TV replays showed Ginobili released the ball in time.
"Once it left my hand, I knew it was good," Ginobili said. "This is a very special thing."
Ginobili scored 27 points for Argentina, which avenged a defeat in the title game at the 2002 World Championships. A non-call by a referee at the end of regulation sent that game into overtime to help Serbia and Montenegro, then known as Yugoslavia, win.
This time, Argentina prevailed after a final 10 minutes that had all the excitement of a medal-round game. Neither team led by more than four points in the fourth quarter after Serbia and Montenegro came back from a big early deficit.
Ginobili scored on a drive with 16 seconds left and drew Vladimir Radmanovic's fifth and final foul, converting the three-point play for an 81-81 tie. Dejan Tomasevic then drew Fabricio Oberto's fifth foul on a shot attempt from the lane with 3.8 seconds left, but he made only 1 of 2 foul shots.
Argentina advanced the ball quickly, and point guard Alejandro Montecchia hit Ginobili with a pass just inside the foul line. Ginobili managed to get off a difficult shot from the right side of the lane that bounced off the glass and in.
"It was almost impossible," Ginobili said.
"As soon as I saw it go in, I got ready" to be mobbed, he said.
* SPAIN 83, CHINA 58: Spain's Pau Gasol got the better of China's Yao Ming in Olympic basketball's own clash of the giants.
Seven-footer Gasol led Spain in a Group A matchup featuring two of the NBA's top international players.
Gasol poured in 21 points as he and the 7-6 Yao, an NBA all-star and the tallest man in Olympic history, traded baskets, assists, rebounds and elbows.
Left with a bloody nose at one end of the court in the first half, Gasol reentered the game and put down an emphatic two-handed dunk in Yao's face as the two jostled all night for position before the Chinese center fouled out halfway through the final period after scoring 12 points.
"We knew we had to collapse on Yao, double- and triple-team him. We did this quite well, and they didn't hit their outside shots," said Gasol, adding he would have X-rays taken on his nose later in the day to see if it is broken.
* ITALY 71, NEW ZEALAND 69: Gianluca Basile scored 16 points, and Italy, which led by 17 points, held on despite failing to score over the final 21/2 minutes.
Matteo Soragna scored as the shot clock expired with 2 minutes 30 seconds left, giving Italy a 71-62 lead. New Zealand scored seven straight points, getting within two on a pair of free throws by Sean Marks with 41 seconds left.
* LITHUANIA 78, ANGOLA 73: Eurelijus Zukauskas and Kristof Lavrinovic each scored 15 points, and Lithuania held off Angola's three-point shooting. Angola went 15 for 29 from behind the arc and led by 13 points in the first half before its foul trouble started to mount.