Rio 2016: Questionable call earns Spain men’s basketball bronze


Spain outlasted Australia in the 2016 Rio Olympics men’s basketball bronze medal game thanks to a generous late-game call

Both Spain and Australia entered the 2016 Rio Olympics men’s basketball tournament with a silver medal—or possibly a gold—on the brain. They’re unquestionably two of the most talented teams in the tournament, but both of their efforts were thwarted in the semifinals. Subsequently, they were left dueling in the bronze medal game on Sunday.

Even if it wasn’t for gold or silver, though, Spain and Australia fought every bit like two teams not wanting to leave Rio empty-handed. Spain jumped out to an early lead, but Australia thanks to a supreme effort from David Andersen kept hanging around. With Sergio Rodriguez and Pau Gasol really spearheading the Spanish offense to combat Andersen and Patty Mills, it became a back-and-forth affair in the bronze medal game.

Spain finally entered the fourth quarter ahead by three points, but the Aussies still had plenty left in the reserve tank to try and close out the game. Mills was firing and hitting, Aron Baynes was fighting for everything on the glass, and they simply had an answer for everything Spain had.

The defining moment of the bronze medal game, though, came with under a minute to play. With both teams taking the lead multiple times throughout the final moments, any one possession could’ve been the difference. As it turns out, it was Spain’s Rodirguez being the beneficiary of a foul call with only 5.4 seconds left in the game. Despite being a touch-foul at an important moment, the officials gave him the benefit and two free throws.

Rodriguez knocked down the two foul shots to give the Spanish the 89-88 lead. They then stifled the Aussies on the final possession to secure the win and the bronze medal—but not without plenty of protest from the Australian contingency.

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Three Stars

Pau Gasol, Spain – 31 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, one block

Patty Mills, Australia – 30 points, three steals, two assists

Nikola Mirotic, Spain – 14 points, seven rebounds, two steals, one block

The Spanish win the bronze medal after the last-second call aided them retaking the lead. Meanwhile, the Aussies leave disappointed and without any hardware in men’s basketball.