In Australia, the seasons are on the other side of the calendar from ours and the basketball players react to World Cup losses like this:
That would be Australian big man Andrew Bogut after the Boomers’ double-overtime loss to Spain on Friday in the World Cup semifinals, a game in which several calls seemed to go in the Spaniards’ favor. One of them, a loose-ball foul on Bogut while he was attempting to pull down a defensive rebound, took place with less than 10 seconds remaining and the Aussies up by one, and the big man responded with a hand gesture that indicated his thoughts about whether the referees were on the level:
Marc Gasol would hit the two free throws that followed to give Spain a one-point lead, but Australia’s Patty Mills sent the game into overtime by making 1 of 2 foul shots on the ensuing possession. After two extra periods, Spain pulled away for a 95-88 win.
The two sides have something of a history. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Sergio Rodriguez hit a pair of free throws with 5.4 seconds left to give Spain an 89-88 victory and the bronze medal, sending the Australians to their fourth fourth-place finish at the Olympic tournament. The call that sent Rodriguez to the line also was considered dicey, as replay showed that Mills had backed out of his way and avoided contact.
“They got some tough calls towards the end,” Bogut said after that game, in which he battled foul trouble. “Patty’s call towards the end comes three seconds after the ball hits the rim, so [the officials] are obviously thinking about something.
“It’s disappointing that it has to go that way, and disappointing that the play before, Aron Baynes gets an arm-bar foul in a one-point game with 20 seconds left. It’s absolutely ridiculous. They controlled the tempo of the game, and it wasn’t in our favor.”
Former NBA big man Luc Longley, then and now an assistant coach for Australia, on Friday took an anatomically foul-mouthed bent when trying to describe the Boomers’ lousy luck with the referees during games against Spain.
“It’s f----- very similar. I think, in Rio, I also think we deserved to win it,” he said. “It’s just a f------ ... I don’t know what we’ve gotta do. We’ve gotta find an altar somewhere and burn a sacrifice, or do something the basketball gods, because they’re not kissing us on the [male body part] yet, like they do Spain. You can print that if you want.
“Spain gets kissed on the [male body part] by the basketball gods every time we play them.”
No, the male body part he mentioned was not the Adam’s apple.
As for how Australia can recover ahead of Sunday’s third-place game against France?
“The trick is not compounding this into another loss in two days,” Longley said. “The trick is cauterizing the wound somehow, without alcohol. That’s usually how I cauterize my wounds. But that’s not the way to do it at the moment."
Longley let it all hang out.
“I haven’t got anything beautiful for you, guys. I’m a little bit stunned. I feel f------ stabbed in the heart by that.”