On the verge of the biggest win in Boomers history, Australia couldn't close out Spain and lost on Friday in a double overtime thriller. Standing in their way?
A double overtime thriller saw @BaloncestoESP 🇪🇸 make their way back to the #FIBAWC Final for the first time since 2006! ESPAUS- Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWC) September 13, 2019
Game Highlights 📽. pic.twitter.com/qs9lIIFYQh
Here are the biggest takeaways from Spain's dramatic comeback win over Australia.
Boomers still can't stop the Gasols
In the 2016 Olympics, it was Pau Gasol.
In the 2019 World Cup, it was Marc Gasol.
Two brothers, one result: domination.
33 points- NBA (@NBA) September 13, 2019
🇪🇸 advances! @MarcGasol pic.twitter.com/EPWbXj2flb
After a quiet first half in which he scored just four points and seemed to let the game flow on its own terms, Marc Gasol took command in the second half. He scored 29 of his 33 points after halftime and nearly won it at the end of regulation, calmly sinking two free throws with eight seconds remaining to give Spain a 71-70 lead, its first time ahead since the start of the second period.
Once Patty Mills forced OT by getting to the line and sinking a free throw at the other end, Gasol wasted no time asserting himself in the first overtime period as he scored Spain's first five points.
It must have been a feeling of deja vu for the Boomers who watched back in 2016 as Pau Gasol scored 31 points to lead Spain to a one-point win in the bronze medal game in Rio de Janeiro.
MORE: How Marc Gasol's play for Spain translates to 2019-20 for Toronto
This time around, it was the younger of the Gasol brothers who came up big with clutch free throws, timely buckets, nifty passes and key defensive stops. When it mattered the most for Spain with its back against the wall, it leaned on the experience and leadership from its 34-year-old centre to bring it back.
Gasol now has the chance to become just the second player to win an NBA title and FIBA World Cup in the same year, joining Lamar Odom of the United States who did it in 2010.
Australia can't close out a big lead
With 4:50 left in the third period, Nic Kay scored on a lay-up to put the Boomers up 50-39.
Spain was in the midst of a horrific shooting slump, Patty Mills looked unstoppable and Australia was cleaning up on the offensive glass. For a few moments it looked as if the Boomers would blow the game open and turn it into a route. Up until that point, Spain was somehow holding on and staying within striking distance. After Kay put Australia up by double digits, the Boomers went cold and missed their next six shots as Spain whittled that 11-point lead back down to just four entering the final period.
In addition to a poorly timed cold stretch, the biggest culprt behind the Boomers blown lead was turnovers.
Australia finished with 22 turnovers that led to 25 points for Spain, many of them careless and in big spots.
For as great as Patty Mills was scoring the ball, he committed seven of those 22 turnovers including one in the final 30 seconds of regulation with Australia leading by one that negated yet another clutch offensive rebound by Kay who finished with seven boards on the offensive glass.
Patty Mills needed more help
As evidenced by the seven turnovers, Mills didn't have a perfect game.
But he came awfully close.
Once again Mills carried the offensive burden, carving up Spain to the tune of 34 points despite facing heavy pressure and consistent double teams. He got into the lane at will, buried some clutch 3s and forced overtime by drawing a foul at the end of regulation.
Mills did have an opportunity to win it at the line. Trailing 71-70, he drew a foul with under five seconds left but missed the second free throw which would have given Australia a one-point lead with under five seconds remaining.
But despite the turnovers and costly missed free throw, it's hard to hold anything against Mills. For long stretches, Spain did everything in its power to force the ball out of his hands which led to numerous 4-3 advantages for the Boomers which they repeatedly failed to take advantage of.
Help needed to come from Joe Ingles, Matthew Dellavedova and Aron Baynes. While all three had moments and impacted the game in other ways beyond scoring, they collectively finished 5-23 from the field. After scoring six points in the first quarter, Dellavedova went scoreless the rest of the game while Ingles missed all six of his 3-point attempts, many of them wide open and on the heels of a Mills double team.
While both Kay (16 points) and Andrew Bogut (12 points) provided some offensive support, Australia needed one of it's other three primary scorers to help relieve some pressure off Mills. None of them could and as a result, Australia missed its chance at the gold medal.
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