LONDON (Olympics) - Manu Ginobili has captured Olympic gold and was hoping to claim a second bronze on Sunday but Russia had other ideas, beating the Argentina basketball icon and his teammates in the battle for third place on Sunday, 81-77.
The 35-year-old shooting guard of the San Antonio Spurs had 21 points but Russia’s rising star Alexey Shved poured in 25 and hit one of his six three-balls in the final minute to lead country to its first bronze.
Ginobili and Argentina didn’t play as well as they expected, but fought until the last seconds.
Argentina came up with a steal near the end and Pablo Prigioni then turned it over. What happened?
Manu Ginobili: The last play was a foul. I was next to the action, I touched the ball and then Prigioni came and grabbed it and I think somebody grabbed his arm.
I was next to him and he got fouled. You get upset at the time because that could have sent us to the line to tie the game. Refs are human and of course you get upset but it's part of the game. Before that I fouled Fridzon at a three-point shot and they didn't call it and we were not complaining about that one.
It goes both ways. We should not have arrived to that spot.
So this isn’t what cost Argentina the game?
Manu Ginobili: It's not an excuse, referees can make mistakes. It should not have reached that point for us. We should have played better and not relied on the last shot of the last defense.
We are a better team than we showed today and that is what makes me upset. You play against Team USA and you lose because they make 20 three-pointers and you just cannot stop them and that is fine. But today, I truly believe we were better than what we showed and losing like that hurts.
Can you put the defeat into context in terms of your career?
Manu Ginobili: It is probably one of the most painful loses. I did lose a (2002) World Championship Final even more doubtful than this one and obviously at the time, it hurt a lot. That was 10 years ago and one gradually loses the taste and bitterness of that moment. After 10 minutes of the final whistle, I feel it's the worst moment of the world. But sport is like this.
There are times that a mistake can make you lose, that it can make you win. You don't always win sometimes because the other team was better. The fact is that sometimes you don't win and you have to keep your head held high. I still feel as proud of my team-mates that when we beat Brazil (in the Quarter-Finals).
Sum up your feelings.
"I feel sadness, disappointment. We were really enthusiastic about taking home a medal. It would have been a cycle of three impressive Olympic Games, it still is. But it's not the same to be third than fourth. We said it before the game and we say it now. I am very sad because it is probably my last Games. Not every day you have a chance.
Sometimes you have good tournaments but for different reasons, you don't reach the Semi-Finals. So we are all gutted.
Will this result affect your decision on whether or not to continue to play for Argentina in the future?
Manu Ginobili: No, it will not influence my decision. It has nothing to do with it.