Straight after Spain’s 88-82 defeat to Brazil, TalkBasket’s John Hobbs asked both Jose Calderon and coach Sergio Scariolo about their thoughts on the rumours that the 2008 Olympic silver-medallists threw the game.
Brazil won the fourth quarter 31-16 and Spain were very static and lackadaisical both on defence and offence. A complete contrast to the first three quarters.
The rumours circled around the media on the eve of the evening session contest between Spain and Brazil was that both teams would try to lose this game as the path for the loser would be slightly easier as they would finish third and avoid possibly the USA in the semi-final, unless Australia can pull a major upset in the quarter-finals.
Following the game, Spanish point guard Jose Calderon labelled the rumour as disrespectful, insisting that his side are always ready for whoever they face.
“I’m really disappointed about that,” Calderon said. “I don’t like to read about all that stuff but it’s been a problem over the years and basically we play to win. Some teams try to avoid us in other tournaments and we’ve always criticised that. We always say that it wasn’t good to do that and we’re not going to do it.”
Calderon, who won a Eurobasket gold medal in Lithuania last year, missed the 2008 Olympic gold-medal game against USA through injury and is desperate to win gold here in London. He says that to win gold, you have to beat anybody; including the USA.
“We’re in the Olympics and you have to try to win every game; no matter who you play against. If you want a medal, you have to beat anybody,” he commented.
Spain coach Sergio Scariolo, who has masterminded two Eurobasket titles for Spain in 2009 and 2011 dismissed the “tanking” question. Normally a very talkative and open-minded coach changed. The Italian was very blunt on the subject.
“I don’t want to be disrespectful, but it’s not an intelligent issue to talk about,” Scariolo answered. “Knowing who I am, who my players are, who my Federation is, what we’ve won, what we did and how we behave this is frankly not an intelligent issue to discuss.”
It was a major fourth quarter collapse from Spain, who were up 66-57 at the end of the third quarter and comfortable having been ahead from the opening tip until 4:17 was left on the clock when Learndro Barbosa connected from deep to give Brazil a 75-73 lead which they maintained in the remaining minutes.
Interestingly, Calderon said: “We play well for seven minutes, but we’re going to get better. We have so many ups and down, but we’ll be okay.”
This result means that Brazil finish second on a 4-1 record with Spain dropped down to third on a 3-2 record.
Brazil will face bitter rivals Argentina in the quarter-finals with Spain squaring-off against France in a rematch of the 2011 Eurobasket final.