Argentina's shooting guard Manu Ginobili (R) taps hands with his teammates after losing to USA during a Men's quarterfinal basketball match between USA and Argentina at the Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro on August 17, 2016 during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Photo by Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images.
Argentina's shooting guard Manu Ginobili (R) taps hands with his teammates after losing to USA during a Men's quarterfinal basketball match between USA and Argentina at the Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro on August 17, 2016 during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Photo by Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images.

The sterling international basketball careers of Spurs stars Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker ended Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro when their Argentine and French teams lost in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympic tournament.

Meanwhile, Spurs center Pau Gasol and guard Patty Mills continue their quests for medals.

Mills scored a game-high 24 points to lead Australia to the semifinals on the strength of a 90-64 blowout against Lithuania. He and his “Boomer” teammates will meet Serbia, an 86-83 quarterfinal winner over Croatia, in one of Friday’s semifinal matches.

Gasol triumphed in Wednesday’s quarterfinal play at Parker’s expense, helping Spain blow out the French team, 92-67. The Spaniards on Friday will meet heavily favored Team USA, which scored a 105-78 win over Ginobili and Argentina.

For many, especially Spurs fans, the departure of Ginobili and Parker from the international scene was the biggest story to emerge from Wednesday’s play. At age 39 and after more than 20 years of professional basketball, Ginobili has a clear understanding that his days in Argentina’s blue and white uniform are behind him.

Ginobili has two Olympic medals, a gold and a bronze, but past success meant little against the United States on Wednesday. Playing in the Olympic quarterfinals for the fourth time, he scored 14 points against heavily favored Team USA but the Americans rolled to the win that ended the glorious run of Argentina’s “Golden Generation.”

Warriors star Kevin Durant scored 27 points to lead Team USA, which overcame a 19-9 deficit to turn the game into a rout.

The Argentine roster that won the gold medal at the 2004 Olympic tournament in Athens, Greece, included Ginobili and six other players who were on NBA rosters or eventually would be: Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni, Carlos Delfino, Pablo Prigioni, Pepe Sanchez, and former Spurs center Fabricio Oberto.

Their triumph in Athens compelled Argentine basketball fans to give them the nickname “La Generacion Dorada,” the Golden Generation.

Those seven players formed the core of a national team that began a magical run of international success by earning the silver medal in the 2002 FIBA World Championship. It followed with the gold medal performance in Athens that included an 89-81 win over Team USA in the semifinals in which Ginobili scored a game-high 29 points. It carried through a bronze medal showing at the Beijing Olympiad in 2008 and a fourth-place finish in London in 2012.

Sanchez, Prigioni, and Oberto have already retired from international play. Now it seems certain that Ginobili and Scola, who is 36, played their final games for Argentina on Wednesday. It was the first time Ginobili and his Golden Generation comrades failed to advance past the quarterfinals in their four Olympic tournaments.

With a clear understanding that the four Golden Generation teammates were playing together for the last time, Argentine coach Sergio Hernandez returned them to Wednesday’s blowout game for the final four minutes while a large contingent of fans from Argentina serenaded their heroes, non-stop and despite the score.

At game’s end, Ginobili’s emotions got the better of him during an interview by NBC courtside reporter Ros Gold-Onwude.

“An amazing journey,” Ginobili told Gold-Onwude. “Four times in this type of event. Very successfully sometimes; sometimes, not quite. But anyway, competing at our highest level; enjoying what my team did and taking a lot out of it. I learned a lot. It was an unbelievable experience. I’ve been 20 years with this (Argentine) jersey so it’s quite an emotional day.

“Of course, I started playing at 19, 20 years old and now I’m almost 40. So, of course, a lot of things happened. Some amazing times. Unbelievable ones. Some of the tough ones but most of them with the same core group of guys, good friends, representing a lot of people that I love; leaving on the side my family, and it’s very hard. I’m sorry … “

With that, Ginobili, his eyes welling with tears and unable to continue, walked off an Olympic basketball court for the last time.

Parker’s exit from the international stage also was difficult. He had declared the Rio Olympics would be his last tournament with “Les Bleus,” and hoped that a team that included numerous NBA players would produce the first Olympic medal for France. That made Wednesday’s loss to Spain, France’s arch rival, especially difficult to accept. Nevertheless, Parker had a meaningful moment after the game in which he wished good luck to Gasol, his new teammate, in his quest for a gold medal.

The extent of Spain’s domination of France on Wednesday was unexpected and disheartening for Parker and a French team that had extended Team USA to the limit on Sunday in the final game of group play.

Double-teamed by France through much of the game, Gasol scored only five points but helped facilitate the ball movement that freed teammate Nikola Mirotic to score a game-high 23 points in a 92-66 rout that ended the medal quest for Parker and his French teammates, including former Spurs Boris Diaw and Nando De Colo.

Parker scored a team-high 14 points for “Les Bleus” but Spain could not be stopped in the final three quarters by its European arch-rival.

Mills and his Australian teammates are now 5-1 in Olympic play, having dropped only a closely contested Group A game to the U.S. He enters the semifinals as the No. 2 scorer in the Olympic tournament, averaging 21.2 points per game after getting 24 against Lithuania on Wednesday.

He assessed the Australian approach to the task ahead of the “Boomers” in a post-game interview with NBC’s Dan Patrick.

“We take a lot of pride and passion in playing for our country and there’s no better place to do it than in the Olympic Games,” Mills told Patrick. “If you want to achieve greatness you’ve got to beat greatness and we believe the U.S. is, obviously, the great team to beat. That’s our goal and it’s important we all understand that goal.

“We don’t want to come to the Olympic Games and just participate. We’ve got to set high standards for ourselves but also a standard we all believe in as a group and in one another. That’s just hard work and grinding it out.”

Win or lose on Friday, Gasol and Mills are assured of playing for medals on Sunday. While the goal for both will be to play for gold, there is some solace that the semifinal losers will meet on Sunday with the bronze medal at stake. Spain took the silver medal in both Beijing and London but Australia never has won an Olympic medal.

Though Mills was Australia’s top scorer for the fifth time in their six Olympic games, he got plenty of help in the easy win over Lithuania. Former Spurs forward Aron Baynes scored 16 points and grabbed five rebounds for the Boomers, whose only misstep in the tournament was a tightly played 98-88 loss to the U.St. in group play.

Top Image: Argentina’s shooting guard Manu Ginobili (right) taps hands with his teammates after losing to the U.S. during the Men’s quarterfinal basketball game at the Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 17.  Photo by Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images.

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Mike Monroe

Mike Monroe is a longtime, award-winning NBA and Spurs reporter who recently retired from the Express-News and is now contributing to the Rivard Report.