Spain avoids potential USA semifinal after Brazil defeat
Gasol: "If we carry on like this, we’re all going home"
"If we carry on like this, we're all going home," said Pau Gasol after Spain slumped to defeat against Brazil on Monday night at the Basketball Arena in Stratford, its second straight loss in preliminary stage play after Russia came from behind in the previous Group B match to secure top spot.
That left Spain in something of a quandary ahead of the clash against Brazil, which featured nine NBA players across the two sides: lose, and Spain would avoid the USA in the semifinals. However, the same was true for Brazil, which put on 31 points to Spain's 16 in the final quarter to tie up a 88-82 victory. Spain now plays France in the last eight while Brazil will face Argentina, with the winner of that match going on to play the USA. Spain, if it beats France, will line up against either Russia or Lithuania in the last four — not games to be taken lightly, especially in view of its final-quarter collapse against David Blatt's side.
But was Brazil's final-quarter rally the result of complacency on Spain's part, or a slight easing off the gas with half an eye on the silver medal match?
"We tried to win and we put out a team to win, but subconsciously it might have affected us," said Spain coach Sergio Scariolo. "To play before the quarterfinals with qualification already assured makes it difficult to keep concentration levels up. We played a good first three quarters but in the last the game slipped through our hands. We are finding it difficult to concentrate throughout an entire game. It's clear we have to improve in some defensive aspects."
Pau Gasol, who together with his brother Marc racked up 45 points and 10 rebounds, denied Spain had been anything other than fully committed. "I don't want to lose for anything. It's a game we should have won. Once again we have suffered from inconsistency. It wasn't the first game, or the second... it was the fifth and it is worrying. We have to improve."
Soccer coach Milla sacked
Spain's poor performances in the soccer tournament, in which it was expected to at least reach a projected final against Brazil, claimed its first victim on Tuesday when the Spanish Football Federation published its decision "not to renew the contract of Luis Milla," the regular under-21 coach who took the Olympic team to London.
Spain, which featured European Championship, World Cup, Liga, Europa League and Champions League winners, whimpered out of the tournament without scoring a goal. The physical trainer, Juan Carlos Martínez Castrejo, was also discarded. Under-19 coach Julen Lopetegui will take charge for the team's upcoming matches against Switzerland and Croatia.