- Associated Press - Saturday, September 10, 2011

MAR DEL PLATA, ARGENTINA (AP) - Brazil and Argentina picked up victories Saturday to claim berths in next year’s London Olympics.

Brazil beat the Dominican Republic 83-76, and Argentina edged Puerto Rico 81-79 in the semifinals of the Olympic men’s basketball qualifying for the Americas.

The two finalists meet Sunday and qualify automatically for London. The third through fifth-place teams earn spots in a qualifying tournament just before the games, which will award several more berths for London. Venezuela claimed the fifth-place spot.

The United States won the world championship last year and was the first team to qualify for London. Britain, Australia and Tunisia have since gained spots.


Manu Ginobili made the tiebreaking free throw with 58 seconds left for Argentina and Pablo Prigioni added another with 6 seconds to go before Jose Barea of the Dallas Mavericks missed a 3-pointer with a second to play.

“Mission accomplished,” Ginobili said. “But we really suffered. It was one of the toughest games of my life.”

Luis Scola of the Houston Rockets led Argentina with 27 points and the Spurs’ Ginobili added 23. Barea had 20 and Daniel Santiago scored 16 for Puerto Rico, which led 44-40 at halftime.

“Today it was all or nothing,” Argentina coach Julio Lamas said. “I feel very emotional about qualifying.”

Marcelo Machado led Brazil with 20 points in the semifinal victory with 19 for teammate Marcelo Huerta.

Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks and Jack Martinez scored 18 for the Dominican Republic in a game that was close throughout.

“We have realized a dream,” Machado said. “We have worked hard for this, and this is a prize for effort and talent.”