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Bryant sizzles as U.S. team stays perfect at Olympic qualifier

Bryant sizzles as U.S. team stays perfect at Olympic qualifier

Kobe Bryant scored 27 points, including 15 in the first quarter, as the U.S. easily beat Argentina 91-76 to keep their perfect record intact at the FIBA America's Olympic qualifying tournament.
The Americans led 49-30 at the half in the battle of the tournament's only remaining undefeated teams in front of a crowd of about 5,500 at the Thomas and Mack Center arena on Thursday.
But any notion that Argentina would pose the first real test to the American's team of NBA stars was dismissed in the opening quarter of the second round match thanks to Bryant's performance.
"It is not about making LeBron James happy or Kobe Bryant happy or Carmelo Anthony happy," said James, who had 15 points and six rebounds. "It is not about making one guy happy and getting him the most shots. It is about sharing the ball and winning the gold medal."
With the win the U.S. moves on as the No. 1 seed in the semi-finals where they will face Puerto Rico which beat Canada earlier Thursday 72-66.
The Americans have yet to be challenged and are now a perfect 7-0.
Argentina, was playing without four NBA stars, Manu Ginobili, Fabricio Oberto, Andres Nocioni and Walter Herrmann, will now focus on winning their next match against Brazil for a berth in the Beijing Games.
Carlos Arroyo scored a game-high 22 points including four from three point range as Puerto Rico beat Canada.
Puerto Rico earned a berth in the semi-finals of FIBA-sponsored basketball tournament by holding off a spirited fourth quarter rally by the Canadians, who will get a chance compete in Beijing at a second qualifying tournament next July.
Arroyo, a member of the NBA's Orlando Magic, shot nine-for-15 from the field, scoring 10 points in the opening quarter.
Puerto Rico led 35-34 at the half before breaking the game open in the third quarter to take a 58-43 lead into the fourth. Canada fought back in the final quarter as Carl English's steal with 21 seconds left led to a basket and cut Puerto Rico's lead to 68-66.
But Canada couldn't get any closer as Jose Juan Barea made two free throws with 16 seconds on the clock to give Puerto Rico a four-point cushion. Filiberto Rivera sealed the win with another pair of free throws with eight seconds left.