Spain withstands a late charge from Australia to win 89-88 and come away with the bronze at the Rio Olympics.
The Spainish squad took a 12-point lead in the second quarter and looked like they would run away from the Aussies. But, the Boomers went on a 10-0 run to close the half and clawed back within two points.
The second half was peppered with lead changes, including seven in the final two minutes of the game. Australia held a one point advantage with five seconds left but a questionable foul call on Patty Mills sent Sergio Rodriguez to the free throw line. Rodriguez nailed both free throws to give Spain a one point lead of their own, but Australia still had time to get a shot off.
The Boomers bungled the final play though, as an errant passed bounced off the legs of a Spanish defender, forcing the Aussies to hurl up a wild, desperation three from beyond half-court. Australia came up just short in their pursuit of their first Olympic medal in men’s basketball.
Pau Gasol led Spain with 31 points, seven rebounds two assists and a block. He shot an efficient 12-for-15 from the floor.
Nikola Mirotic added 14 points, seven rebounds, two steals, a block and an assist. Earlier in the game Mirotic gave Spain a scare when he and Aron Baynes collided, sending Mirotic to the floor clutching his knee. He returned to the game shortly after, but the injury initially looked much worse.
Spain was buoyed by solid performances from Rodriguez and Rudy Fernandez. Fernandez had 10 points, including two three-pointers. Rodriguez, who will play for the Philadelphia 76ers next season, scored 11 points, including the tying and go-ahead free throws.
After a down game in the semifinals, Patty Mills rebounded with a big performance. He tallied 30 points, four steals, two assists and a rebound. He was the lone Aussie starter to score in double digits.
The Boomers played most of the second half without their best big man as Andrew Bogut fouled out with 7 minutes and 54 second remaining in the third quarter. He finished with two points, five rebounds and an assist.
Australia stayed in the game in large part due to clutch performances from its reserves. David Andersen scored 15 points, Ryan Broekhoff scored 13 and Brock Motum scored 12 on a combined 15-for-21 shooting.
Spain won its fourth Olympic medal, and third in as many Games. The Spaniards had lost in the gold medal game in 2008 and 2012, but wins the bronze medal match in Rio to keep their medal streak alive.
While Spain and Australia didn’t make the gold medal game, bronze was clearly more than just a consolation prize for both teams. Spain rejoiced on the floor after surviving the final possession while the Aussies were left in tears knowing they would have to wait four more years for Olympic success.