Spain deny thowing Oly basketball match

NZ Newswire August 7, 2012, 10:54 am

Spain's players have strongly denied suggestions their late collapse against Brazil was an attempt to avoid the United States in the semi-finals of the London Olympics.

Brazil finished on a 21-9 charge in the final six minutes, outscoring Spain 31-16 in the fourth quarter, to win 88-82 and claim the Group B second seed ahead of the world number two and European champions.

It is Spain's second loss in a row, and the second game where a fourth-quarter collapse has brought about their downfall after they went from nine points up with four and a half minutes to go to lose 77-74 against Russia.

But while the Russia defeat ended Spain's hopes of topping the group, this loss could have a useful side effect as it would keep Spain away from the top seed in Group A - expected to be the Americans - until the final.

The suggestion the team might want to lose had already been raised by Spanish media before the contest tipped off.

But Toronto Raptors guard Jose Calderon dismissed the idea after the game.

"This is not our team," he said.

"This is not how we play. This is not the way we've been together for I don't know how many years. We always play to win. Always.

"There have been some situations before when some teams have tried to avoid us and we don't like that. 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."

Felipe Reyes said the media speculation had angered the players.

"Of course it bothered us," he said.

"We're professional players and we always want to win. The press were talking about that and it affected us. Now we have to forget this and focus on what comes next."

Earlier in these Olympics, there was huge controversy when the Badminton World Federation disqualified four doubles teams who were accused of trying to lose matches in order to try and influence the seedings.

Spain had led virtually the entire game, often by double digits, and were still up 73-67 with 5:43 left to go after Pau Gasol split a pair of free throws.

But then the game very quickly became the Leandro Barbosa show.

The NBA star hit a pair of free throws and then stunned Spain with back-to-back three-pointers that gave Brazil a 75-73 advantage.

Pau Gasol's lay-up levelled but Brazil kept coming with Barbosa hitting two more free throws and Larry Taylor sinking a jump-shot.

Pau Gasol went to the line again but could only split his throws.

When Barbosa hit another jump-shot the lead was 82-76 with two minutes to go.

Spain could not stop the bleeding, and Tiago Splitter gave Brazil an 88-79 lead with five seconds left to cap it.

Sergio Llull hit a late three for Spain, but it was of little consolation.