Did Spain throw a basketball game?

03:55, Aug 07 2012
Larry Taylor of Brazil gets past Pau Gasol of Spain during thir men's basketball preliminary round match at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
TO THE BASKET: Larry Taylor of Brazil gets past Pau Gasol of Spain during thir men's basketball preliminary round match at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Brazil came from 10 points behind to beat Spain.

The Olympic tanking controversy has descended into further farce with questions asked about a Spanish side that was steamrolled late in its basketball pool game against Brazil, a result which will see them avoid the might of the USA until a potential gold medal game.

Spain played the Brazilians in the night session of the basketball at the Olympic Park and looked to have the game in hand before Indiana Pacers guard Leandro Barbosa hit back-to-back threes to spark a comeback that eventually resulted in an 88-82 victory, all without star big man Nene.

Brazil trailed 67-57 early in the fourth quarter, with both of Spain's star Gasol brothers Marc and Pau sitting on the bench. They weren't able to rally their side as Brazil finished over the top of them, although for dubious reward.

The game carried heavy implications for the quarter-finals of the men's Olympic basketball tournament. Brazil's victory saw them finish second in group B, behind the Russians. They now face Argentina in the quarter-finals and if they win that, play the USA in the semis, assuming they beat Australia on Wednesday. It's almost certain to be a dead end.

Meanwhile, the Spaniards' path to a potential gold medal game now lies via France in the quarters, then Russia in the semis.

After Team USA had belted Argentina 126-97 to move to even heavier favouritism, a Brazilian reporter asked American coach Mike Krzyzewski about the result in the previous game. The reporter suggested the French had lodged an official protest about the result to FIBA.

"Now France enters a protest against Spain. How do you see this?" the reporter asked.

Krzyzewski stayed clear of the matter, saying his focus was only on playing the Australians, who upset Russia earlier in the day on the back of a Patrick Mills clutch shot just seconds from time.

"That doesn't make any difference to me. We're playing Australia. All of these other games don't mean a darn thing to me," Krzyzewski said.

"The only game that means something is the game that we play next. We have to get ready for Australia and the other two teams in our bracket. We have three big games to win if we want to win the gold medal. Paying attention to other games is just a distraction."

Fairfax Media has placed calls with FIBA and the French Olympic Committee and is seeking further information. Basketball officials were unable to confirm whether a protest had been lodged but it is believed the French were less than pleased with the result, which sees them meet the highly fancied Spaniards in the quarter-final.

Spain guard Jose Calderon told the Associated Press his side would never throw a game in any tournament.

"No. Never," Calderon said. "This is not our team, this is not the way we play, this is not the way. We've been together since I don't know how many years, and we always play to win. Always."

The suggestions come on the back of an Olympics that has been tainted by a badminton scandal which saw eight female players kicked out for trying to lose pool matches to avoid playing the Chinese top seeds in knock-out rounds. There were farcical scenes earlier in the Games with sides playing each other and both trying to lose.

-Fairfax Australia