);
San Antonio Spurs

ON THIS DATE: Manu Ginobili leads Argentina past Team USA at 2004 Olympics

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Manu Ginobili and the Argentina National Team in 2004 (Getty Images)

The Argentine Men's National Team holds a large place in the history of international basketball competition.

On this date in 2004, Argentina shocked the basketball world by becoming the first national team to deny American pros Olympic gold at the Athens Games. This monumental win came just two years after Argentina became the first to defeat a United States team featuring NBA players at the 2002 FIBA World Championship.

Led by a stellar performance from San Antonio Spurs legend Manu Ginobili, Argentina defeated the United States 89-81 in the Olympic semifinal round. Ginobili finished with a game-high 29 points on 9-for-13 shooting from the field (and 4-for-6 shooting from deep) over what he considered to be a relatively weaker Team USA squad than from years past.

"In 1992, the USA had the best players ever. Here they are great players, too, but they are young and they never played internationally, so with different rules it's a whole different thing. The rest of the world is getting better and the States isn't bringing their best players."

Though Team USA featured two league MVPs in Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson as well as the budding talent of a 19-year-old LeBron James, 20-year-old Carmelo Anthony and a 22-year-old Dwyane Wade, the roster was held back its by youth, inexperience and a lack of team chemistry. It didn't help that Argentina was far from a one-man show; outside of Ginobili, its roster featured seven players that spent time playing in the NBA (Carlos Delfino, Walter Herrmann, Andres Nocioni, Fabricio Oberto, Pepe Sanchez, Luis Scola and Ruben Wolkowyski).

Argentina would go on to earn its first-ever Olympic basketball medal in a big way, winning Gold after defeating Italy by 15 points. Ginobili, Scola and Wolkowyski were among the best performers in the Gold medal game. Ginobili, who has appeared in four separate Olympic games, returned in 2008 to lead Argentina to a Bronze medal in Beijing.

As for Team USA, it earned the Bronze with an eight-point win over Lithuania - the first of its active Olympic win streak of 25 games - even more reason to forever remember Argentina for its groundbreaking victory in 2004.

The refocused efforts of the United States National Team program over the last 14 years and the reestablishment of America's dominance in international basketball competition were both set in motion by the performance of Ginobili and the Argentine National Team on Aug. 27, 2004 - and they've got a Gold medal to show for it.

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