LONDON – Ten mesmerizing minutes can’t make the U.S. men’s basketball team forget the last 10 years.

When the Americans face Argentina in the Olympic semifinals Friday, they aren’t preparing for the team they left in the dust in the third quarter Monday. That was so easy, so effortless, that another matchup so soon seems like a waste of time.

The Argentines are proud champions, with a core of beloved veterans seeking to go out in glory, a team whose accomplishments are almost on par with the Americans over the last decade.

That’s the team the U.S. players are counting on seeing.

“We already know what to expect as far as the intensity of this game tomorrow night. They’re going to bring it,” U.S. forward Carmelo Anthony said Thursday.

“We know what to expect from ourselves, we know what we’ve got to do, we know what’s at stake and tomorrow is one of biggest games that we’ve ever played. Tomorrow is just about who wants it the most.”

It’s the third straight Olympic semifinal meeting for the countries, adding to what’s been perhaps international basketball’s foremost rivalry in the last decade. Argentina beat the U.S. in 2004 en route to the gold medal, two years after a victory in the world basketball championships made the Argentines the first team to beat a U.S. team with NBA players.

The Americans won four years ago in Beijing, have beaten the Argentines twice this summer, and it’s almost fitting they require a stopover to face each other before either can get back to the medal podium.

“For us, its the semifinals. You don’t need other, or you shouldn’t need any other motivation,” U.S. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “The fact they’re so good should make us even more prepared.”

After six almost-even quarters, the Americans appeared to have solved the Argentines in the third quarter Monday, outscoring them 42-17 behind Kevin Durant’s 17 points and coasting to a 126-97 victory. Even Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola, who have had as much success against U.S. players as anybody, realize Argentina has no shot in a game played at that pace.

“If we want to have any chance to win the game, that just cannot happen,” Scola said. “Not even 120, not even 110, not even 105. We need to put that game in the 90s. That would be pretty much our only chance to win.”

The Americans are averaging 118 and haven’t been held below 98 in the tournament, so Scola may have to readjust his goals.

But Argentina did make it tough for the U.S. in an exhibition last month in Barcelona, trimming a 20-point deficit to four before the Americans pulled out an 86-80 victory. And the U.S. led only 60-59 at halftime Monday against an Argentina team without Pablo Prigioni, its point guard who has signed with the New York Knicks.