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Russia upsets Spain, chance of USA/Spain gold medal rematch almost dead

Aug 4, 2012, 12:31 PM EDT

Dejected Spain players leave the court a Getty Images

We almost certainly will not have a rematch of the 2008 Gold Medal game from Beijing.

But how about a rematch of the controversial 1972 Olympic Gold Medal game won by Russia? That we could get.

That’s because Russia defeated Spain 77-74 Saturday, giving Russia the top spot in Group B. It’s an upset, although if you have watched Russia play in these games you know it’s not as big of one as you would have thought a week ago. Russia has been good.

Russia is now 4-0, Spain 3-1 in group play. Spain will finish second in Group B (unless they fall to Brazil in the last game of the group, in which case Spain would be third… but that’s unlikely and would have people thinking badminton).

What that means is that Spain — considered the second best team at the Olympics — will be on the USA’s side of the eight-team medal round bracket (a lose and you are out tournament). If things stay to form the USA would play Spain in the semifinals and the best the loser of that game could do is the bronze.

The winner of a that potential USA/Spain match would likely get the Russians in a gold medal game, a Russian team that we now should call the second best in this tournament.

Still, Russia’s win over Spain was surprising.

Spain raced out to 17-point lead at the end of the first quarter but Russia owned the middle of the game, outscoring Spain 45-25 combined in the second and third quarters. Russia did it without their leading scorer having a huge game — Andrei Kirilenko was just 2-of-8 shooting on the night. Also, soon-to-be Timberwolves point guard Aleksey Shved had by far his worst game of the Olympics, not scoring at all and playing only seven minutes.

Spain and Russia were close through the fourth quarter but Spain maintained a small lead until a Victor Khryapa’s three-pointer with 1:01 left tied the game up at 73-73. After getting a stop, the Russians took the lead when Spain’s defense broke down and Timofey Mozgov got free for a dunk.

Spain had a chance to tie with 5.2 seconds left when Pau Gasol was fouled. But Gasol missed the first of two free throws. He hit the second, then Spain fouled Russian Vitaliy Fridzon (the hero of the Brazil win who scored 24 points to lead Russia in this game). Fridzon hit both, it was 77-74, and Spain could not even get off a game-tying three attempt.

Gasol had 20 to lead Spain. His brother Marc Gasol had 10 points and 9 rebounds. As a team, Spain shot just 3-of-15 from three. But it doesn’t matter now.

Spain wanted another shot at the USA and another shot at gold, but their path to the final game now is much, much harder. Their dream of a gold medal rematch with the USA is all but dead, as may be their dreams of gold period.

And in the United States we can start thinking 1972.

  1. bigbadwolfmeow - Aug 4, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    Lebron is overrated and doesn’t have the drive to win……Dwight Howard.

  2. Josh Harb - Aug 4, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Reblogged this on Josh Harb and commented:
    Yeah! I hope Russia wins! :D :D

  3. phaden27 - Aug 4, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    1972wasalongtimeago.

  4. joroberts10 - Aug 4, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    How many of us will actually be thinking of a game the happened 40 years ago?

    • bigmeechy74 - Aug 4, 2012 at 4:29 PM

      Considering it was the biggest screw-job in the history of basketball i think a lot of people will remember it. Especially since there have been documentaries about that game and books written etc.

    • biasedhomer - Aug 4, 2012 at 6:14 PM

      I think it was more of a joke

  5. sellahh - Aug 4, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    “would have people thinking badminton”
    okay i chuckled

  6. sellahh - Aug 4, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    Oh, and just because USA will probably meet Spain in the semis or something it doesn’t mean the game will be easy. In fact, it may be tougher cause Spain will know they’ll need to be at their best. USA hasn’t lost so far and I think it may hurt them.

  7. matt20hew - Aug 4, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    Reblogged this on Today's News.

  8. mungman69 - Aug 4, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    I remember Russia (dirty commies) beating us but something is missing in 2014.

  9. lmvs2012 - Aug 4, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    Weak azz! Spain!

  10. mcqphx - Aug 4, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    1972 pay back USSR…mf’ers

  11. learningtosamba - Aug 4, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    Brazil looks pretty tough. I would not bet against them in the upcoming game versus Spain. On paper, it is a close match. Brazil’s bigs can go toe-to-toe with the Gasol bros, and the best point guard in Spain for the past few years has been the Brazilian pg Marcelo Huertas…

  12. pellypell - Aug 5, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    In Soviet Russia, ball dunks you!

  13. monsterofyourgirlsmidway - Aug 5, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    do you guys ever proof-read your articles?

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