7th Place game Men: ESP 92 - CHN 76
ATHENS - Pau GASOL left some NBA flavor in his last game at the 2004 Olympic Games Men's Basketball tournament, scoring 37 points (making 14 out of 16 from the field), to help Spain beat China 92-76 and take seventh place.
By the end of the third period, with the Spaniards up 65-50, the Memphis Grizzlies superstar had not missed a single shot, making nine out of nine two points shots, and three from three free throws.
Spain extended the lead to 83-63 midway through the last quarter, leaving China in eighth place for the tournament.
The two teams had also clashed in similar circumstances during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, when Spain had won by 84-64 to claim ninth place, relegating the Asian Champions to tenth.
GASOL's teammate Jorge GARBAJOSA scored 20 points with 4/5 threes, while Juan Carlos NAVARRO finished the game with nine points. The Spanish team were disappointed to be playing for seventh position, given their 5-1 record in the tournament (5-0 in the preliminaries).
LI Nan led China with 16 points and 5/7 threes, while YAO Ming added 14 points and seven rebounds. Two more players, DU Feng and GUO Shiqiang contributed 11 points apiece making a total of 6/9 three pointers. The Chinese scored 12 three pointers from 27 attempts.
Spains best performance ever was placing second in the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games, while China had finished eighth in Atlanta in 1996.
Pau GASOL, center (ESP)
On the game:
"It was hard to wake up early in the morning, come to play and have to be focused just to earn the seventh place. However we managed to perform well against a young and promising team and finish the tournament with a victory. We take only that."
On the seventh place:
"It's really dissapointing to finish our participation with six wins and only one loss in the quarter-finals and finally rank seventh like in Sydney. I think we played well as team and we deserved at least the fifth place. The system send us to the seventh place. It's really sad."
Jorge GARBAJOSA, forward (ESP)
On the seventh place:
"We are frustrated by our final rank, because we lost only once and we competed for the seventh place. It was very difficult for us to play this game, but in the locker room we said that we going to play for the win and our pride. This system is not fair."
Carlos JIMENEZ, Forward, Team Captain (ESP)
"The game turned out to be easier than we thought. We are disappointed of not making the semifinals, and I believe its a shame that we fought for seventh place. It was a consequence of the competition system. But we can leave Athens extremely proud of ourselves and happy our team worked well."
LI Nan, Forward, Team Captain (CHN)
"Both teams played well. We did our best, but Spain was the better team. They put a lot of pressure on us and especially on YAO Ming, and they made us commit turnovers. But anyway, I think we achieved what we were aiming at considering the high level of this tournament. The gap between us and the good teams is still a big one and we have to learn from our experience here."
Mario PESQUERA, Head Coach (ESP)
"Congratulations to my colleague and friend Del HARRIS for the job he has done in China. China is an excellent team, and they proved with their wins against New Zealand and Serbia/Montenegro. I hope they will continue like this and have great success in the future. Its tough to play at 9 a.m. for places 7-8. We deserved better, as we beat both gold medal game finalists, and they have lost more than once in this tournament, while we lost only one game. It was not the best situation for Spain, but I have to congratulate my players with all my heart. Im proud of being their coach."
Del HARRIS, Head Coach (CHN)
"Congratulations to my friend Mario (PESQUERA). The competition system is strange, and was unfair to Spain as it was to Canada in Sydney. Spain had such a wonderful performance here, and its not right to be seventh after six wins and just one loss. I hope Spanish people understand what an outstanding coach they have, a fine gentleman whom I would like my sons to play for. China needs a lot of things to have success in the future, but the most important is to play against top international competition more than just once every two years. As for my future with the team, Im not that good in predicting the future; I leave it in Gods hands."
Source: Athens News Service