FIBA
Photo: FIBA

Spain defeated Australia 89-88 in an exhilarating game to win the bronze and a third Olympic podium finish in a row.

But it was a game which has already been heavily criticised on social media for the suspect officiating, especially in the last 5.4 seconds of regulation when Sergio Rodriguez was fouled by Patty Mills with many believing that there was very minimal contact.

The Boomers felt hard done by, the crowd inside the Carioca Arena felt the call was harsh and the call sparked a social media backlash against Spain but the whistle was blown regardless.

And Rodriguez hit the winning free throws as Spain land their podium finish and Australia narrowly miss out.

But while the talk will no doubt continue to be of the refereeing decisions that ultimately determined the game, the chatter should be about a basketball game that was worthy of the gold medal game, not the bronze. A truly excellent advert for international basketball that saw both teams go tooth and nail for a medal.

“We got the bronze, but they deserve it, too, because they had a great tournament,” said Spain’s Victor Claver.

And Australia certainly did, in fact it was their best Olympic finish in 14 appearances, and it was a shame that they missed out by a fraction.

“Just heartbroken, it’s tough,” Australia’s David Andersen said, not mincing his words.

Pau Gasol led Spain with 31 points, going 11/13 from the field. Nikola Mirotic added 14 for the newly crowned bronze medalists.

Mills paced Australia with 30 points.

But despite having a game to win at the end, Australia trailed for the majority for the contest, trailing 24-17 after one and 40-38 at the half. Spain offensively were strong and hitting their open shots.

But Australia, led by Mills were hanging around and in the early stages of the second half grabbed a 43-42 lead before Andrew Bogut fouled out with eight minutes left of the third.

Gasol then saw a green light but it was Spain’s three-point accuracy that was keeping their noses in front until a thrilling final quarter saw the lead change hands multiple times leaving the crowd salivating.