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08/07/1998 21:25:34 Basketball-U.S. and Russia set up repeat clash

(adds later matches, quotes)

By Dave Thompson

ATHENS, Aug 7 (Reuters) - The United States and Russia, finalists in 1994,

clash again in the world basketball championship semifinals on Saturday.

The repeat meeting was set up on Friday after the Russians beat Lithuania

82-67 and the Americans edged past Italy 80-77 in quarter-final action.

The other semifinal will be between Yugoslavia, who survived a scare to

overcome Argentina 70-62, and Greece, who beat Spain 69-62.

Four years ago the Americans won the final but then it was all about the

Dream Team. This time around a makeshift but ever improving squad will be doing

duty.

The U.S. team, with no NBA stars because of a labour dispute, left it late

on Friday against Italy who had led for much of the game after recovering from a

slow start.

Ironically, Carlton Myers, born in the U.S. but now a naturalised Italian,

might have won it with a difficult late three-pointer but it was not to be.

Myers top scored in the match with 32 points -- 16 more than U.S. leading

contributor Michael Hawkins.

U.S. coach Rudy Tomjanovich said: "Italy played very well and for the

majority of the game they had us in a big hole.

"But it's a true sign of character that a team can be in a hole and not fall

apart. We have done this a couple of times here."

Italy coach Bogdan Tanjevic said: "It went down to the final seconds and

Myers's shot was decisive."

Dejected Gregor Fucka, along with Myers one of the Italian stars in the run

to the last eight, said: "I think we lost the game with one shot."

Russia have to thank Vassilij Karassev for their victory over Lithuania. The

playmaker scored 31 points to leave coach Sergei Belov enthusing: "A true leader

was born for the Russian team today."

Lithuania managed to hold the Russians to 61-63 with four minutes left but

just lost their grip in the final stages.

Yugoslavia, champions in 1990 and fancied by many to regain the title,

wobbled against outsiders Argentina. They trailed 42-49 before "Sasa" Djordjevic

steadied the ship with some welcome points at critical moments.

Argentine coach Julio Cesar Lamas said: "We had a chance to win but

Yugoslavia have no flaws. The game was lost when Djordjevic began to score

unstoppably."

Greece, who had lost their final two group matches, thrilled the capacity

18,000 home crowd with a well deserved victory over Spain. Two three-pointers in

the last two minutes from guards George Baloyiannis and Frangiskos Alvertis put

the game beyond their opponents' reach.

One of the Greek defeats was to Yugoslavia, their opponents on Saturday.

Greek playmaker Angelos Koronios said: "It will be a different match

tomorrow, much different from the one we lost."

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