It was the most remarkable game but in the end every bit as heartbreaking as Rio for the Australian Boomers with Spain winning the semi-final 95-88 at the FIBA World Cup in a double overtime classic.
The fact that it was a classic game will be of little solace for the Boomers who have had their hearts broken for the second time in the space of three years at a major international tournament by Spain.
It was a controversial call that decided things at the Rio Olympics, but this time it was Spain who outlasted the Boomers in the game that went to two overtimes with Toronto Raptors NBA championship winner Marc Gasol putting his nation on his back.
The Boomers led most of the way in regulation before a strong finish from Spain forced overtime. Australia had to fight back in the first overtime period to force it into a second, but the Spaniards wouldn’t be denied with Gasol showing why he’s a three-time NBA All-Star.
Australia can’t be anything but proud of their performance against one of the world’s powerhouses. The chance is still there for their first ever medal on Sunday in the bronze medal playoff against either France or Argentina.
Patty Mills again did all he could for Australia finishing with 34 points on 11/25 shooting from the field, 4/11 from deep and 8/11 from the foul line.
Nick Kay had the international game of his life with 16 points and 11 rebounds with Andrew Bogut contributing 12 points and nine boards.
Aron Baynes added six points and five rebounds, Matthew Dellavedova six points and nine assists, Chris Goulding five points, Joe Ingles four points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, Jock Landale three points and three boards, and Mitch Creek two points and six rebounds.
Ultimately 22 turnovers were costly for the Boomers with Spain scoring 25 points off those despite Australia winning the rebound count by 14.
Marc Gasol was massive for Spain with 33 points, six rebounds and four assists on 11/19 shooting with 8/8 from the foul line.
Ricky Rubio added 19 points and 12 assists for Spain while Sergio Llull came up huge for 17 points and six assists.
Spain opened the semi-final with a triple to Ricky Rubio and a dunk to Juancho Hernangomez before Australia steadied thanks to a Joe Ingles layup and Patty Mills mid-range jumper.
Spain was up 11-6 when Hernangomez hit from downtown before Chris Goulding gave the Boomers an instant boost with a triple.
That sparked Australia into action and Matthew Dellavedova also hit from deep with the Boomers leading 19-17. But Spain was up 22-21 at quarter-time thanks to a buzzer-beating three from Sergio Llull.
Australia held Spain scoreless for the opening four minutes of the second period and the Boomers would lead by as much as eight, and remained 37-32 to the good by half-time.
The Boomers’ lead grew to 11 on a put in from Kay after a good pass from Goulding but by three quarter-time it was back to four and it was game on.
Australia started the fourth period with a Bogut tip-in after Mills missed on the drive before Ingles found Bogut for a beautiful alley-oop play to keep it a six-point game before Kay made it eight with seven minutes to play.
Spain was never going down without a fight, thought, and suddenly with 3:45 left it was a two-point game when Llull delivered on a drive and layup.
Kay continued to come up huge for Australia and picked up another offensive board but there was still a point the difference with Spain calling for time with 28 seconds on the clock. Their shot missed but Gasol got put to the line on the offensive board, somewhat fortunately.
He made both to put the Spaniards up 71-70 with Andrej Lemanis calling timeout with 8.7 seconds left. Mills drove hard to get fouled and made one with Rubio going ever so close on a prayer from half court.
It went to overtime and Gasol hit the first five points, but Australia responded firstly through a triple from Mills and yet another huge play from Kay.
Things remained tense right up until scores were still tied at 78-78 with a Boomers timeout with 16.3 seconds left. Mills was fouled and made both but Spain still had 14 seconds.
Gasol was fouled and hit both to lock scores back up with 4.6 seconds left and Dellavedova couldn’t finish his desperation attempt and it was overtime No. 2.
Bogut scored first but Spain then hit the next seven points and then Llull nailed a dagger three with two minutes left and there would be no coming back this time for Australia who will now play for bronze on Sunday.
FIBA WORLD CUP – SEMI FINAL
AUSTRALIA 88 (Patty Mills 34, Nick Kay 16, Andrew Bogut 12)
SPAIN 95 (Marc Gasol 33, Ricky Rubio 19, Sergio Llull 17)