Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez heaped praise on Luis Scola after a crucial 97-77 victory over Japan that made sure of a place in the knockout rounds of the men's basketball tournament.

Following back-to-back defeats, Argentina needed to beat the hosts in their final Group C match to qualify for the quarter-finals as one of the best third-placed teams.

Scola certainly led by example. The veteran power forward scored 23 points and also had 10 rebounds as the 2004 Olympic champions prevailed, securing a last-eight date with Australia.

Still going strong at the age of 41, the five-time Olympian's efforts delighted Hernandez.

"He's ridiculous. He's a hard worker, he doesn't stop ever. I think he hasn't stopped one day in the last 25 years," the Argentina coach said.

"I am sure I am not the same coach without him. Not for his 23 points [against Japan], but for his leadership. I love him."


Scola is set to appear in the last eight at the Olympic Games for the fifth time. Part of the side that won gold in Athens, he also helped Argentina to a bronze medal in Beijing four years later.

After a slow start, Scola - who made five of his eight three-point attempts against Japan - is encouraged by the gradual improvement his nation have made heading into the knockout stages.

"The most important thing for us, besides obviously the qualification and all that, is that we've been playing better every day," he said.

"We can see a trend, a trend that we need to encourage, we need to promote, and we need to keep it up.

"I'm not saying we're favourites, I'm not saying we are guaranteed a win or anything like that, but I like our odds."


Spain were denied top spot in Group C after suffering a 95-87 defeat against impressive debutants Slovenia.

After surrendering a 57-45 advantage, the Spaniards ended up in the bottom half of the quarter-final draw, where they face the United States in a mouth-watering clash.

Luka Doncic had just 12 points but recorded nine assists – taking his tally for the tournament to 31 – and 14 rebounds as reigning European champions Slovenia made it three wins from three. They will play Germany next.

"We had to adjust to [Spain's zone defence]," Doncic said. "I don't think we expected that, but they had basically two or three guys on me and I just had to find open shots [for his team-mates].

"I think we didn't play great today, we missed a lot of shots, but I'm really happy for the win."


There were better fortunes for Spain in the women's tournament, however, as they topped Group A with a 100 per cent record.

Astou Ndour scored 20 points as the 2016 silver medallists beat Canada 76-66.

"We value that we got these three huge victories, so I want to believe that there are things that are working for us," said small forward Alba Torrens.

"But at the same time, I don't want to get trapped in the victories because it's not about the result, so I think that we need to keep focused on the process, we need to keep focused on the work."

Serbia – who claimed bronze in Rio five years ago – took second place in Group A following a dramatic 65-61 win over the Republic of Korea, who had produced an inspired comeback from 29-19 down to lead 61-58 at one stage during the final quarter.