The Spanish National Team may have fell short of expectations in Rio de Janeiro, but Jose Calderon and co. nonetheless finished on the podium, as a victory over Australia Sunday earned them the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics.
Calderon — who played infrequently in his fourth Olympics — did not participate in the thriller over the Australians, as Pau Gasol (31 points, 11 rebounds) pushed Spain to a medal despite the best efforts of Patty Mills (30 points).
Aron Baynes put Australia up by one with 9.7 seconds left, but controversy followed, as Mills was called for a foul on Sergio Rodriguez’s ensuing drive to the hoop. Rodriguez drained both free throws for an 89-88 lead with 5.4 seconds to go, and the Australians were unable to get off a final shot.
The finish was especially painful for 11th-ranked Australia considering that the country has never medaled in men’s basketball at the Olympics.
Calderon, meanwhile, captured his third medal after being a key cog in Spain’s run to silver in both 2008 and 2012.
He averaged 2.2 points and 0.6 assists in only 5.1 minutes in Rio. In fact, he only played one minute total in his team’s first two games, as No. 2 Spain suffered back-to-back upsets by Croatia and Brazil.
The new Laker logged about six minutes in each of Spain’s four following games, including when he put in his best effort in a win over Argentina with six points on 2-of-4 shooting.
Calderon followed that by going 1-of-3 for two points in a quarterfinals rout against France. He did not play any more after, sitting in his team’s loss to top-ranked United States and its victory in the bronze medal match.
The 34-year-old entered Rio averaging 8.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists in his Olympic career. He played only 25 minutes total this year, and has now appeared in 26 contests for Spain at the Games.
Calderon can credit much of this medal to Gasol, who dominated throughout the tournament, averaging the fourth-most points (19.5), while shooting 54.5 percent from the field (fifth) and 52.2 percent on 3-pointers (second).
He also led all players in rebounding with 8.9 boards per game and was second in blocks with 1.9.