Australia was one of the most pleasant surprises of the basketball tournament at the Rio Olympics, armed with as much NBA talent as any squad at the games besides the U.S., Spain and France. With Patty Mills gunning from the outside and Andrew Bogut acting as both a defensive anchor and an offensive fulcrum, the Boomers made a surprise run to the semifinals of the tournament before losing to silver medalists Serbia. But they failed to medal, losing to Spain in the consolation game for the bronze, and Bogut isn’t happy about how it went down.
Australia was up 88-87 with under 10 seconds to go when Sergio Rodriguez went for an off-kilter drive right at Patty Mills, who slid backwards and let the Spanish guard flail up a doomed shot. After it rolled out, a ref whistled Mills for a blocking foul, and Sergio calmly nailed both free throws. A busted play on Australia’s end later, Spain walked away with the bronze and Australia walked away in tears. After the game, Bogut told Michael Chammas of The Sydney Morning Herald that the officiating was “absolutely ridiculous.”
“It’s unbelievable,” said the Australian centre, Andrew Bogut. “You just dive into guys recklessly and get calls like that. It’s tough to play like that. We’re disappointed. We had a horrible semi-final, we battled tonight and times we were outnumbered on the court.
“You touch one of these guys and they go flying and the refs buy it. The last two fouls were tough on us.”
Bogut wasn’t alone in the Australian locker room when it came to criticism of the officiating, but true to form, he was the most outspoken. FIBA referees have been lambasted by NBA players for years, but even allowing for the different standards and training they may have, anyone watching the game would feel that the Aussies got a hard deal at the end. It’s a shame, but they established themselves as contenders on the international level regardless.