They may have had higher aspirations coming into the 2016 Rio Olympics, but the Spanish national team will certainly be happy to come away with any medal at all. After climbing their way back from the bottom of Group B, Sergio Rodriguez and Spain took home the bronze medal thanks to an 89-88 victory over Australia.
The 30-year-old Rodriguez finished the game with 11 points (4-11 FG, 1-5 3PT) and five assists in over 23 minutes of play, the most by any point guard on Spain. His playing time seesawed throughout the Olympics, but head coach Sergio Scariolo felt comfortable enough going to the international veteran to let him play a majority of the crunch time minutes over Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio. The bronze is Rodriguez's second Olympic medal; he won silver with Spain during the 2012 Games in London.
As Australia focused most of their defensive attention towards Pau Gasol, who finished with an incredible 31 points on 12-15 shooting, it presented Rodriguez with more space to score. His step back jumper with 1:29 left on the clock gave Spain a brief 85-84 edge, but Australia would answer with two free throws from David Andersen to give them the one-point edge. Pau Gasol went to the line with 29 seconds left and answered with two free throws of his own, but a hook shot out of the high post from Australia's Aron Baynes would give the boys from Down Under an 88-87 advantage.
Out of a timeout, Rodriguez grabbed the ball with nine seconds left and drove straight at Patty Mills, drawing what looked to be a questionable foul call. He sank both free throws to give Spain an 89-88 lead with 5.4 seconds left, and a stop on defense to end the game gave Spain their fourth Olympic medal ever. All 11 of Rodriguez's points came in the final frame, something Spain desperately needed to keep up with the high energy of Australia.
For those who are just getting their first look at Rodriguez in these Olympics, it was hard not be impressed. He wasn't always the most efficient scorer, but he certainly showed he was capable of running an offense, and held his own against some of the NBA's premier talent.
Sixers fans should look forward to seeing Rodriguez having a sizable role in their offense come October.