Both teams that found themselves in the bronze medal match early Monday morning (AEST) definitely didn’t picture themselves there when the knockout stage began. Spain and Australia both had dreams of a gold or silver, but instead found themselves battling it out for third place.
Australia fought hard, taking the traditional titan in Spain down to the wire. But in the end, it was the Spaniards who would pick up the bronze, denying Australia their first-ever medal, 89-88.
Australia was close, and the game didn’t end without controversy. Patty Mills was called for a foul very late in the game that gave Spain the lead on the ensuing free throws, and Twitter was on fire talking about the call or non-call.
The decisive foul on Sergio Rodriguez in Spain vs Australia, foul or not foul? https://t.co/2HVJo343C7
— Sportando (@Sportando) August 21, 2016
Pau Gasol scored 31 to lead the Spaniards, and was on fire throughout the game. His rebounding set the tone against the longer Boomers, and Australia struggled to get rhythm in defense against his post passing. If it’s indeed Gasol’s final Olympics, what a way to go out.
Spain shuts down Australia at the buzzer to win #bronze! 🏀
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 21, 2016
Even with the controversial ending, the Boomers were solid – as they had been throughout the competition, with the exception of their semi-final loss – and look genuinely optimistic for the next competition. As they should, this Australia team is looking promising, and even in defeat, we may have just seen a changing of the guard for the challenger to USA world dominance.