ATHENS, Greece -- Top-seeded and previously unbeaten Spain is out of the medal round in men's basketball, and the Spaniards aren't happy about it.
As the teams left the court Thursday after Team USA's 102-94 victory, Spanish coach Mario Pesquera and United States coach Larry Brown yelled and pointed at each other about a late U.S. timeout. After about a minute, they had to be separated by their assistants.
"I'm very happy with the way my team played," Pesquera said. "I'm not happy with the way things turned out.''
Pesquera was upset Brown called a timeout with 23 seconds left and the Americans leading by 11 points. He let the U.S. coach know it as they left the court.
"I had -- and I stress the word 'had' -- a lot of respect for Larry Brown," said Pesquera, who smirked and shook his head when
he heard Brown explain that he tried to rescind the timeout. "Dean Smith would have never done anything like that.''
Timeouts in Olympic basketball can only be called by the coach, not by players. Brown had gone to the scorer's table to request the timeout after a Team USA turnover, then tried to wave it off once he realized how much time had elapsed. Officials would not allow Brown to rescind the timeout.
Said Brown: "We had basically turned the ball over twice against their press, and you know I'm still trying to teach and win a game. But when I saw that some seconds had run off the clock, and I saw how late it was, I tried to wave it off, but they wouldn't let me. ...
"Hopefully I'll learn to handle these situations, which are new to me, a little bit better."
This was Spain's chance to shine, especially after rolling to a 5-0 record before the Olympic quarterfinals. But the Spanish were
paired against a mercurial U.S. squad that lost twice in the opening round yet this time hit 55 percent from 3-point range.
The Spaniards lost, and now they'll play for seventh place.
"Let's be honest,'' Pesquera said. "The Americans have played to 40 percent of their capacity in two of their games. I think it's
very strange to take part in a competition that rewards teams that lose.''
Pau Gasol led Spain with 29 points but was held to just four in the fourth quarter by a tenacious American defensive effort, which
quieted a pro-Spanish crowd of 14,500 that included Spain's King Juan Carlos.
"It was said that the public supports the weaker team. I think in this case the public was solidly behind the stronger team because we were the stronger team,'' said Pesquera, who also complained that the officials allowed the Americans to get away with multiple traveling violations.
"I think this game was played under NBA rules, not FIBA rules,'' he said.