A disputed call with 20 seconds left figured prominently in another controversial loss for reigning world champion Serbia and Montenegro.
New Zealand rallied from an 11-point deficit in the final five minutes to beat Serbia and Montenegro, 90-87, yesterday in Athens in a physical game that had the officials attracting as much attention as the loser's suddenly precarious path to the quarterfinals.
Dillon Boucher's driving layup with 20 seconds left brought New Zealand (1-2) within 87-86. As Serbia and Montenegro (1-2) was inbounding the ball, New Zealand's Mark Dickel wrapped his arms around Milos Vujanic to draw the foul and stop the clock.
Instead, an offensive foul was called on Vujanic, and Sean Marks dunked on the resulting inbounds play to give New Zealand an 88-87 lead.
Vujanic missed a three-point attempt with five seconds left. Dickel made two free throws with 3.7 seconds left, and Dejan Bodiroga's three-point attempt at the buzzer was short.
All three of Serbia and Montenegro's games have been decided at the buzzer.
Serbia and Montenegro Coach Zeljko Obradovic followed officials Jorge Vazquez of Puerto Rico and Phillippe Leemann of Switzerland off the court, waving his finger at them as he talked animatedly.
"The decision with 20 seconds left. . . . directly affected the game," Obradovic said. "The decision was a gift to the team that won the game."
* PUERTO RICO 83, ANGOLA 80: Daniel Santiago blocked Carlos Almeida's three-point attempt as time expired to clinch the win for Puerto Rico (2-1). Angola is 0-3.
* SPAIN 71, ITALY 63: Spain (3-0) clinched a berth in the quarterfinals by pulling away over the final six minutes behind big men Pau Gasol (16 points) and Jorge Garbajosa (17 points). Italy is 1-2.
* ARGENTINA 82, CHINA 57: Andres Nocioni had 17 points, Luis Scola 15 and Manu Ginobili 14 as Argentina (2-1) used its press and passing to negate Yao Ming's size. China is 1-2.
* LITHUANIA 98, GREECE 76: Ramunas Siskauskas had 25 points, and Saulius Stombergas added 22 for Lithuania (3-0), which became the first team from Group B to clinch a quarterfinal berth. Nikolaos Zisis had 18 points for Greece (1-2).