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Spain, US set for a sizzling basketball semifinal

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Team USA avoid repeat of the basketball disaster of 2004 against Argentina

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 17 (Reuters) - The United States and Spain finally lived up to expectations, posting blowout wins on Wednesday to reach the semi-finals of the Olympic men's basketball tournament as France and Argentina lost much more than a game.

While the United States and Spain have struggled to reach their full potential at times on the Rio hardwood, Australia and Serbia have delivered much more than expected in also reaching the last four.

Even though the United States were the only team to finish group play without a loss, questions about their ability to claim a third straight gold swirled after three unimpressive narrow wins to close out the preliminary round.

SEE MORE: Everything you need to know about the Rio Olympics

Those questions were answered in the form of a 105-78 rout against Argentina as the U.S. extended their Olympic winning streak to 23 games.

"We got our swagger back, offensively and defensively," Team USA guard Paul George, a three-time NBA All-Star, declared to reporters.

Second-ranked Spain made a poor start to the tournament with losses to Brazil and Croatia before shifting into top gear with four straight wins, including a 92-67 victory over old foes France on Wednesday to ease into the last four.

MOUTH-WATERING SEMI-FINAL

Basketball fans can now savor the prospect of a mouth-watering semi-final between the U.S. and Spain that could double as an NBA All-Star game as both teams are stacked with NBA champions, All-Stars and most valuable players.

"This is another challenging team, so we have got to come in right," George said about Spain. "They're good. Another team full of pros.

"They have a little bit of everything. They have shooters, big men, ball handlers, scorers.

"All of those guys are pros and they have played together for a while so they have some experience."

Ranked 11th, Australia may be an underdog but they have been one of the top teams in Rio and punched above their weight on Wednesday with a 90-64 upset win over third-ranked Lithuania to close in on what would be a first ever Olympic basketball medal.

"It's another step on our journey," said Matthew Dellavedova, one of four members of the Australian squad who have NBA championship rings. "We've set the goal of winning a gold medal and today was just another step."

SEE ALSO: TBT: Allyson Felix had an early start towards track and field greatness​​​​​​

The next step for the close-knit Boomers is a semi-final meeting with Serbia, who came out on top after a hard-fought Balkan derby as they held off Croatia 86-83.

As France and Argentina made their quarter-final exits, they not only said goodbye to Rio but also bade farewell to standout players who put their respective countries on the basketball map.

Tony Parker, 34, confirmed after the loss that he had played his final game for France.

Just a few hours later, his 39-year-old San Antonio Spurs team mate Manu Ginobili followed suit by calling an end to his international career with Argentina.

(Additional reporting Mary Milliken; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

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See all US medals won in Rio

80 PHOTOS
2016 Olympic medals won by United States athletes
See Gallery
2016 Olympic medals won by United States athletes

Gymnastics: Women's artistic team

Gold: Lauren Hernandez, Madison Kocian, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas (L-R)

(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Gymnastics: Women's artistic floor

Gold: Simone Biles

(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Gymnastics: Women's balance beam

Silver: Lauren Hernandez

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Gymnastics: Men's parallel bars

Silver: Danell Leyva

(Photo credit  TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

Gymnastics: Women's uneven bars

Silver: Madison Kocian

(Photo by Stanislav Krasilnikov\TASS via Getty Images)

Gymnastics: Men's horizontal bar

Silver: Danell Leyva

(REUTERS/Ruben Sprich)

Gymnastics: Women's artistic individual all-around

Silver: Aly Raisman

(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Gymnastics: Men's pommel horse

Bronze: Alexander Naddour

(Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Track and Field: Men's decathlon

Gold: Ashton Eaton

(Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Women's 100m hurdles

Gold: Brianna Rollins

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Women's 400m hurdles

Gold: Dalilah Muhammad

(Photo by William Volcov/Brazil Photo Press/LatinContent/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Men's 400m hurdles

Gold: Kerron Clement

(Photo credit PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Men's long jump

Gold: Jeff Henderson

(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Men's shot put

Gold: Ryan Crouser

(Photo credit FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Men's triple jump

Gold: Christian Taylor

(Photo credit FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Women's long jump

Gold: Tianna Bartoletta

(Photo credit FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Women's long jump

Silver: Brittney Reese

(Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)

Track and Field: Women's 100m hurdles

Silver: Nia Ali

(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Men's 100m

Silver: Justin Gatlin

(Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Men's 3000m steeplechase

Silver: Evan Jager

(Photo credit OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Men's shot put

Silver: Joe Kovacs

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Women's 100m

Silver: Tori Bowie

(REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Track and Field: Women's 100m hurdles

Bronze: Kristi Castlin (Center)

(Photo credit PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Women's 400m hurdles

Bronze: Ashley Spencer

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Women's 3000m steeplechase

Bronze: Emma Coburn

(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Women's 200m

Bronze: Tori Bowie

(Photo credit PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Women's 1500m

Bronze: Jennifer Simpson

(Photo credit FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Men's pole vault

Bronze: Sam Kendricks

(Photo credit FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Track and Field: Men's 400m

Bronze: Lashawn Merritt

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Women's beach volleyball

Bronze: Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross

(Photo credit YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Tennis: Mixed doubles

Gold: Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jack Sock

(Photo credit LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images)

Tennis: Mixed doubles

Silver: Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Tennis: Men's doubles

Bronze: Steve Johnson and Jack Sock

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Swimming: Men's 4x100m medley relay

Gold: Ryan Murphy, Cody Miller, Michael Phelps, Nathan Adrian
(Not pictured: David Plummer, Kevin Cordes, Tom Shields, Caeleb Dressel)

(Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Swimming: Women's 800m freestyle

Gold: Katie Ledecky

(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Swimming: Men's 50m freestyle

Gold: Anthony Ervin 

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Swimming: Men's 200m backstroke

Gold: Ryan Murphy

(Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Swimming: Men's 200m butterfly

Gold: Michael Phelps

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Swimming: Women's 200m freestyle

Gold: Katie Ledecky

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Swimming: Men's 4x100m freestyle relay

Gold: Nathan Adrian, Ryan Held, Michael Phelps and Caeleb Dressell
(Not pictured: Jimmy Feigen, Blake Pieroni, Anthony Ervin)

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Swimming: Women's 4x200m freestyle relay

Gold: Allison Schmitt, Leah Smith, Maya Dirado, Katie Ledecky (L-R)
(Not pictured: Missy Franklin, Melanie Margalis, Cierra Runge)

(Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Swimming: Women's 100m breaststroke

Gold: Lilly King

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Swimming: Men's 4x200m freestyle relay

Gold: Michael Phelps, Conor Dwyer, Townley Haas, Ryan Lochte
(Not pictured: Clark Smith, Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz)

Swimming: Men's 100m butterfly

Silver: Michael Phelps

(Photo credit GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Swimming: Women's 50m freestyle

Silver: Simone Manuel

(Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Swimming: Men's 1500m freestyle

Silver: Connor Jaeger

(Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Swimming: Women's 4x100m freestyle relay

Silver: Simone Manuel, Abbey Weitzeil, Dana Vollmer and Katie Ledecky
(Not pictured: Amanda Weir, Lia Neal, Allison Schmitt)

(Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Swimming: Women's 100m backstroke

Silver: Kathleen Baker

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Swimming: Men's 400m individual medley

Silver: Chase Kalisz

(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Swimming: Women's 400m individual medley

Silver: Maya Dirado

(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Swimming: Men's 200m breaststroke

Silver: Josh Prenot

(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Swimming: Women's 400m freestyle

Bronze: Leah Smith 

(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Swimming: Women's 100m butterfly

Bronze: Dana Vollmer

(Photo by Stanislav Krasilnikov\TASS via Getty Images)

Swimming: Men's 50m freestyle

Bronze: Nathan Adrian

(REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler)

Swimming: Men's 100m breaststroke

Bronze: Cody Miller

(Photo credit Cristophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images)

Swimming: Women's 100m breaststroke

Bronze: Katie Meili

(Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Swimming: Men's 100m freestyle

Bronze: Nathan Adrian

(Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Swimming: Men's 100m backstroke

Bronze: David Plummer

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Swimming: Men's 200m freestyle

Bronze: Conor Dwyer 

(Photo credit GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Rowing: Women's eight

Gold: Emily Regan, Kerry Simmonds, Amanda Polk, Lauren Schmetterling, Tessa Gobbo, Meghan Musnicki, Eleanor Logan, Amanda Elmore, Katelin Snyder

(Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Rowing: Women's single sculls

Silver: Genevra Stone

(Photo credit JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)

Diving: Men's synchronized 10m platform

Silver: David Boudia and Steele Johnson

(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Shooting: Women's 10m air rifle

Gold: Virginia Thrasher

(Photo credit should read PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Shooting: Women's trap

Bronze: Corey Cogdell

(Photo credit Marwan Naamani, AFP/GettyImages)

Shooting: Women's skeet

Bronze: Kim Rhode

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Archery: Men's team

Silver: Brady Ellison, Zach Garrett and Jake Kaminski

(Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Archery: Men's individual

Bronze: Brady Ellison

(Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Fencing: Men's sabre individual

Silver: Daryl Homer

(Photo by Stanislav Krasilnikov\TASS via Getty Images)

Fencing: Men's individual foil

Silver: Alexander Massialas

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Fencing: Men's team foil

Bronze: Miles Chamley-Watson, Race Imboden, Alexander Massialas, Gerek Meinhardt

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Track cycling: Women's team pursuit

Silver: Sarah Hammer, Kelly Catlin, Chloe Dygert, Jennifer Valente

(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Track cycling: Women's omnium

Silver: Sarah Hammer

(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Judo: Women's -78kg

Gold: Kayla Harrison

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Judo: Men's -81kg 

Silver: Travis Stevens

(Photo by Stanislav Krasilnikov\TASS via Getty Images)

Wrestling: Women's 53kg

Gold: Helen Maroulis

(Mark Reis/Colorado Springs Gazette/TNS via Getty Images)

Equestrian: Men's individual jumping

Bronze: Phillip Dutton, on Mighty Nice

(Photo credit John MacDougall, AFP/Getty Images)

Golf: Men's

Bronze: Matt Kuchar

(Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Weightlifting: Women's +75kg

Bronze: Sarah Elizabeth Robles

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Sailing: Men's finn class

Bronze: Caleb Paine

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

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