After a rocky start to the Rio Olympics, Spain will sneak into the quarterfinals after defeating Argentina in their final game of the preliminary round.
It appeared that Argentina was not all that interested in winning the game from the opening tip as they started with two of their best players on the bench. Andres Nocioni and Facundo Campazzo, the heroes of Argentina’s double overtime win against Brazil over the weekend, each were held out of the starting lineup without explanation and Spain took advantage of their absence. Though Argentina got out to an 8-0 within the first 90 seconds of the game, Spain was quick to make up the deficit and went on to outscore the Argentinians 25-15 in the opening frame.
Spain would go on to extend their lead in each of the next three quarters and win the game 92-73. Rudy Fernandez finished with a game-high 23 points on 8-for-10 shooting, seven rebounds, two assists and a steal. Pau Gasol added 19 points and 13 boards.
Argentina’s perceived lack of interest in winning was due to the fact that the loss secured them third place in Group B, meaning that they would be placed in the opposite side of the bracket than the United States. Argentina will now only face the U.S. if both teams advance to the Gold Medal Game. The loss also eliminated Brazil from contention, as they needed Spain to lose in order to make it into the quarterfinals.
Lithuania’s game against Croatia tonight will decide whether Lithuania is the first or second seed in the group. With a loss, Croatia will finish with the same record as Brazil, but gets the nod to the knockout round for beating the host nation earlier in the tournament.