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Argentina slips by Brazil in down-to-the-wire contest

In a matchup between two geographic rivals, Argentina and Brazil battled on Saturday. This go-round, the two soccer-crazed nations did not meet on the pitch; they clashed on the hardwood.

Brazil came into the game at 1-2 in the preliminary round of the 2016 Rio Olympics. Argentina was 2-1.

Basketball - Olympics: Day 4

Despite his small stature, Facundo Campazzo played big for Argentina on Saturday. Photo| Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Nene was the early catalyst for Brazil, scoring six points in the first few minutes of the contest. But it was Argentina that had the better quarter. Led by a 12-point outburst by Andres Nocioni in the first quarter, Argentina was up 28-19 heading into the second quarter.

Brazil went on a 33-16 run in the second, mainly because of the bench play.

Brazil scored an astounding 34 bench points in the first half; Argentina had only two. One of those bench players, Vitor Benite, was a major factor in Brazil’s second-quarter comeback, as he hit a three-pointer midway through the second to give Brazil its first lead since early in the first.

Brazil was up 52-44 at halftime. Argentina was kept alive by Nocioni’s 21 first-half points.

Then, it was Argentina’s turn to make a comeback in the third quarter.

The third was headlined by strong inside play from Nene and scrappy play from 5-foot-11 point guard Facundo Campazzo. Campazzo hit a couple of buckets in the third but his most timely basket in regulation came with three minutes left, when Campazzo hit a floater to give Argentina its first lead since midway through the second. The peskiness of Argentina helped them close the gap to just five points heading into the final quarter.

Nene carried his inside dominance into the fourth with a thunderous dunk over Luis Scola, making it 74-67. After much back-and-forth scoring, Campazzo knocked down a three-pointer with under two minutes left, making it 83-80. Campazzo was fouled on a shot attempt with 22 seconds left and drained both free-throws, making it a one-point game.

Manu Ginobili fouled Brazil’s Marcelo Huertas on an inbounds pass on the following possession. Huertas made both free throws. Ginobili missed a three to tie it but the ball found its way into Nocioni’s hands. Nocioni drained a game-tying three in the left corner with 3.8 seconds left.

On the final possession of regulation, Nene drove the ball into the paint before dishing it to Huertas, who missed the mid-range shot. Both teams headed into overtime tied  85-85.

Nene scored four points on two easy layups in overtime before Alex Garcia hit a three, giving Brazil a 94-88 lead. After a Campazzo layup, Nocioni knocked in another clutch three-pointer to bring Argentina within one with just under a minute left in overtime.

Marcus Vinicius went 1-of-2 from the line to put Brazil up 95-93. But then, surprise, surprise, Campazzo darted in for a layup to tie the game up again.

Brazil’s Raul Neto missed a three-pointer and then Ginobili failed to connect on a floater for Argentina. The game was headed to double overtime.

Campazzo opened up double overtime with back-to-back unanswered threes, giving Argentina a 101-95 advantage. Then, Leandro Barbosa, who was quiet for most of the game, scored nine straight points for Brazil, cutting the margin to one near the final minute.

Campazzo, who went 10-of-12 from the charity stripe, went 3-0f-4 from the line in the final minute. After a pair of Barbosa free throws made the score 109-107, Argentina dribbled a good amount of time off the clock before Brazil fouled Carlos Delfino with three seconds left.

Delfino missed both shots, but on the second miss, Ginobili grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled with 2.6 seconds left. Ginobili, being the battle-tested veteran he is, hit both free-throws. Facing a four-point deficit, Brazil could not do much but heave the ball down the court one last time. Argentina escaped with a 111-107 victory over Brazil in double overtime.

Both teams shot 46 percent from the field. Argentina was 17-of-42 from three, while Brazil shot 9-of-26 from three.

With the win, Argentina improves to 3-1 in Group B. Campazzo had 33 points and 11 assists. Nocioni scored an Olympic career-high 37 points.

Nene had a team-high 24 points for Brazil, which is now 1-3 in Group B and is in danger of not making it past the preliminary round.

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