Australia were left to rue a missed opportunity at the end of regulation time as man-of-the-match Marc Gasol inspired Spain to a 95-88 double overtime victory to reach the Basketball World Cup final.
The Boomers led by 11 in the third quarter, but were overtaken in the final 10 seconds before Patty Mills, the undoubted star of the Boomers’ campaign, was sent to the line with 4.7 seconds left on the clock. Spain, ranked second in the world, led 71-70 but Mills could only land the first of two free-throws.
Had the San Antonio Spurs point guard sunk the second, Australia would have reached their first World Cup final – and secured their first world or Olympic medal.
As it was, despite nothing being able to separate the teams in the resulting extra period in Beijing, Spain pulled away in a second, and Andrej Lemanis’s side will have to play in the early tip-off on Sunday for a bronze medal, against either France or Argentina who play later on Friday. Spain will play for their second World Cup gold.
Mills had 34 points for Australia including four from 11 three pointers while Nic Kay was next best with 16 points for the Boomers. Toronto Raptors star Gasol top scored with 33 points for Spain.
Australia missed shots in big moments, while regular turnovers also helped Spain stay close despite shooting at just 31% in the first half.
A tough foul on Andrew Bogut, eerily similar to events in Rio when Spain pipped Australia by one point to win Olympic bronze, will also sting the Australians as they maintain their search for a maiden international medal.