A second chance proved bountiful for both the men's basketball team and swimmer Matt Biondi Wednesday when the large United States delegation began to make some rumbling sounds at the Olympics.
The basketball team had to wait more than a year for its opportunity, then capitalized on it big by blasting Brazil 102-87 to boost its record to 3-0 and clinch a berth in the quarterfinals.In the 1987 Pan Am Games in Indianapolis, the Brazilians upset the United States in the title game, and for the losers there were bad memories to be soothed. Even though this was merely a preliminary game, and the two powers very well may meet again in the gold medal game, the one-sided victory was satisfying.
"I used to wake up and wish I had to do (the Pan Am game) all over again," said Willie Anderson, one of three U.S. men who played in that game. "I used to dream of (Oscar) Schmidt pounding on the floor. It first happened two months after the game. I finally got over it."
Biondi picked up two medals Wednesday, bringing his haul for the week to three. His first of the day was a silver in the 100-meter butterfly, a race in which he led virtually all the way until Anthony Nesty of Suriname barely edged him by .01 of a second, the closest margin of victory for this event in Olympic history.
On Monday, Biondi was third in the 200 freestyle, and even though the 22-year-old Californian was the only double medalist for the United States, there was some disappointment since he had been touted as having a chance for seven gold medals.
Less than two hours after the butterfly race, Biondi got another chance, and this time he anchored the U.S. team to a gold medal in the 4 x 200-meter freestyle. The team of Troy Dalbey, Matt Cetlinski, Doug Gjertsen and Biondi sweetened their success with a world record time of 7 minutes 12.51 seconds, breaking the mark of 7:13.10 set by West Germany last year.
"I definitely was tired of losing," the 6-foot-7 Biondi said. "All I wanted to do is get on that stand with my teammates. I guess the incentive was enough and we did it."
David Wharton, a 19-year-old USC sophomore from Warminster, Pa., gave the U.S. swim team its third medal of the day, earning the silver behind Hungary's Tamas Darnyi in the 400-meter individual medley.
The three medals boosted the U.S. total to eight, including three gold, after the first 28 of the 237 medal events. The Soviet Union led with six gold and 14 medals, and the United States, East Germany, China and Bulgaria were tied with eight medals.
The United States achieved three other notable successes Wednesday, including a bronze medal for Dennis Koslowski of Minneapolis, Minn., in the 100 kilogram (220 pounds) class of Greco-Roman wrestling. Koslowski, whose twin brother, Duane, wrestles in the 130 kg class, was a silver medalist in last year's World Championships.
Light-flyweight boxer Michael Carbajal of Phoenix, Ariz., gained a 3-2 decision over South Korean Oh Kwang-Soo and the American water polo team edged defending world and Olympic champion Yugoslavia, 6-5.
James Bergeson of Newport Beach, Calif., scored the winning goal with five seconds remaining to give the Americans a measure of revenge against the team it lost to in the 1984 Olympic championship game.
The bronze for Koslowski lifted the United States into second place in the medal standings with nine, including three gold, after the first 31 of the 237 medal events. The Soviet Union led six gold and 15 medals, while East Germany, China and Bulgaria each had eight medals.
Koslowski's medal also was the first for the United States that didn't come in the water.
Reserve center J.R. Reid led the U.S. basketball team with 16 points and backup point guard Vernell Coles contributed back-to-back steals late in the first half when the winners assumed a 48-40 lead.
"Starting doesn't matter on this team," said forward Danny Manning, who scored 12 points. "Look at J.R. He gave us offense, clogged the middle and rebounded. And then our defense just wears on you. We harass and harass and eventually something happens."
Oscar, who scored 46 points in Brazil's championship victory at Indianapolis, had 31 Wednesday, but received little help from his teammates.
Two other world records were set in swimming, in addition to the U.S. relay mark.
Darnyi broke his own world record with a time of 4:14.75 in the 400 individual medley, providing Hungary with its first Olympic swimming gold since 1936, and East Germany's Silke Horner won the women's 200-meter breaststroke in 2:26.71, breaking the mark of 2:27.27 set earlier this year by Canada's Allison Higson.
Darnyi is legally blind in one eye because of an accident he suffered when hit by a snowball. In 1982 he was warned by doctors not to swim after they performed four operations to repair a detached retina.
In Wednesday's other swimming event, East Germany's Heike Friedrich won the women's 200-meter freestyle in the Olympic record time of 1:57.65, raising her record in major championships to 14-0.
Nesty, born in Trinidad, moved to Suriname when he was nine months old and has lived in Jacksonville, Fla., since 1985. He is the first black ever to win an Olympic swimming gold medal and the first athlete from Suriname to capture a medal of any kind at the Olympics.
Costa Rica also picked up its first ever Olympic medal when Silvia Poll finished second behind Friedrich.
"My victory was not a real surprise," said Nesty, who is set to begin his freshman year at the University of Florida. "I knew I could even come first if I did my best, and now I'm on top.'
Biondi should pick up a fourth medal Thursday in the 100 freestyle, an event in which he owns the world record and this year's fastest time. Janet Evans, winner of the 400 individual medley, will be looking to double her medal collection in the 400 freestyle.
The fight between Carbajal and Oh was the first American-South Korean confrontation. Middleweight Anthony Hembrick, who was disqualified when he failed to arrive in time for his fight against a South Korean Monday, was in the arena to cheer on Carbajal.
"He (Oh) was a favorite to win the gold," Carbajal said. "I had to pull it out in the third round. He landed one punch and that was it. I was landing some flurries. My whole family was here (from Phoenix, Ariz.). They gave me a lot of motivation."
Carbajal became the third American out of five to advance past the first round, joining flyweight Arthur Johnson and welterweight Kenneth Gould.
Kim Young-nam gave the host country its first gold medal by winning the 74 kg (1623/4 pounds) class in Greco-Roman wrestling. Andrzej Wronski of Poland won the 100 kg (220 pounds) and Jon Ronningen of Norway won the 52 kg (1141/4 pounds).