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'Dream team' at last reaches semis

ATHENS, Greece -- When it came to the crunch the NBA stars of the United States basketball team showed their mettle to reach the semifinals of the Olympics with a 102-94 win over unbeaten Spain.

Humiliated by Puerto Rico in its opening match, the U.S. team has been steadily improving and inspired by 31-point Stephon Marbury, and late on Tim Duncan, repelled the Spaniards.

Pau Gasol led Spain with 29 points but in the crucial fourth quarter was kept shackled by tight U.S. defense.

The U.S. had a one point lead at the half, and stretched it to as much as nine during the third quarter, but Spain, led by Gasol, kept fighting back.

Marbury scored 21 of his points in the the second half as he caught fire from long range, including a key three-pointer with just under four minutes left to play that sparked the U.S. run. His tally was a record for an American player at the Olympics.

The U.S. were harshly criticised for lacking outside shooting and team players after two stunning losses in the preliminary round, but now have a chance to win the country's fourth consecutive gold medal.

American coach Larry Brown and his Spanish counterpart Mario Pesquera had a brief altercation as the teams left the court, the two pointing angrily at each other before being separated by their assistants.

Allen Iverson added 16 points, Carlos Boozer had 12 and Lamar Odom 11 for the Americans, who advanced to the semifinals against the winner of the Argentina-Greece game.

Meanwhile, Italy outgunned Puerto Rico 83-70 to set up a semi-final showdown with unbeaten Lithuania.

The Italians led the game from early in the first quarter and although Puerto Rico kept things close in the second half, poor shooting and a lack of scoring off the bench hurt them.

Massimo Bulleri led a balanced attack from the Italians, scoring 20 points while Gianluca Basile added 18.

Elias Ayuso had 24 and Carlos Arroyo knocked down 23, but no other Puerto Rican player reached double figures as the team shot a miserable 28 percent from beyond the arc, and only 38 percent overall from the floor.

China dominant in diving

Guo Jingjing made it five Athens Olympic diving titles out of seven for China when she twirled to victory in the women's three-metre springboard final.

World champion Guo, the 2000 Olympic silver medallist, led a Chinese one-two, compiling a total of 633.15 points from her five semi-final and five final dives to win from 18-year-old Wu Minxia, who scored 612.00.

Guo and Wu had already paired up to win the Athens synchronised three-metre springboard event.

Yulia Pakhalina of Russia, the 1998 world champion and 2003 silver medallist, dropped from silver to bronze on the last dive and finished with 610.62 points, having led through the qualifying rounds.

Italy win in overtime

Melania Grego scored the winning goal in overtime to give Italy a 10-9 win over Greece in the women's Olympic water polo final, Italy's first gold medal in the event.

The 31-year-old Italian driver capped a three-goal night with a lob shot past goalkeeper Georgia Ellinaki to finish a fast break in the second overtime period.

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