All five Spurs players involved in the Olympic basketball tournament have advanced to the medal round, the knockout tournament that will commence on Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro and conclude with the gold medal and bronze medal games on Sunday.
The 12 teams that qualified for the Olympic tournament completed round-robin group play on Monday, eight teams advancing to the highly anticipated tournament that will determine the gold, silver, and bronze medal winners.
Guards Patty Mills (Australia), Tony Parker (France) and Manu Ginobili (Argentina), center Pau Gasol (Spain), and guard-forward Patricio Garino (Argentina) advanced with their teams.
If ultimate success in Rio truly is predicated on avoiding heavily favored Team USA as long as possible, Spurs guard Patty Mills has optimized his chances. Averaging a team-high 20.5 points per game, Mills led his team to a 4-1 record that earned No. 2 seed in Group A and a spot in the opposite bracket from Team USA.
In stark contrast, Ginobili, the 14-year Spurs veteran who led Argentina to 2004 Olympic gold, saw his chances of winning another medal diminished by the results of Monday’s play. The combination of Argentina’s loss to Spain and Lithuania’s loss to Croatia left Group B in a four-way tie, with seeding settled by tie-breaker rules involving point differentials in games played among the four qualifying teams.
After the tie-breakers were applied, Argentina was left with No. 4 seed and a quarterfinal matchup against Team USA on Wednesday. On the same side of the tournament bracket with the U.S. and Argentina, Parker’s French team will meet its Euroleague arch-rival Spain.
In the opposite bracket, Australia will play Lithuania in one quarterfinal game while Croatia will meet Serbia.
The Americans, led by Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Carmelo Anthony, won all five of their preliminary games but were tested in their last three by Australia (98-88), Serbia (94-91), and France (100-97). Nevertheless, they remain heavy favorites to win a third straight Olympic gold medal.
Wednesday’s matchups hinged on the outcome of the Argentina-Spain game. It was a must-win game for Spain, which faced elimination if it lost. Curiously, Argentina coach Sergio Hernández left two starters, forward Andrés Nocioni, and guard Facundo Campazzo, on the bench to start the game and held Ginobili out of the bulk of the second half. Ginobili played only 19 minutes but scored 16 points, with five rebounds and two assists.
Parker did not play in Sunday’s game against Team USA after suffering a toe injury in a Friday game against Venezuela but is expected to play in Wednesday’s game against Spain.
Mills will enter medal play as the No. 2 scorer in the tournament, behind only Croatia’s Bojan Bogdanovi?, who averaged 24.8 points in five games. Mills averaged 20.5 points per game for Australia, which is seeking its first-ever Olympic medal.
Gasol was the No. 4 scorer in group play, averaging 19.4 points per game, and the top rebounder, with an average of 8.8 rebounds per game.
Playing in his fourth Olympic tournament, Ginobili tied for 11th in group scoring, averaging 15.2 points per game.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who will take over as head coach of Team USA after the Olympic tournament, also has been in Rio during the tournament.
Top Image: Spain’s centre Pau Gasol (C) reacts during a Men’s round Group B basketball match between Spain and Argentina at the Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro on August 15, 2016 during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Photo by Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images.
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