The nature of the Olympic knockout round — the third place team in Pool B will avoid a potential matchup with the top team, presumably the United States, until the gold medal match — creates potential scenarios where losing is actually a beneficial outcome for the long run.
Monday’s tilt between Spain and Brazil embodies that very scenario — a loss would preclude a matchup with the definitive favorite, which is a positive (obviously).
This scenario may lead some to believe that “tanking” is the best option. Brazil head coach Ruben Magnano isn’t one of those people, adding that any team that speculates shouldn’t be a champion.
“We can not speculate, we have to win,” Magnano said. “If you speculate, how do I tell the players to win the next game? Our mentality is to play a winning game by game and continue to where we go.”
Marcelinho Machado reiterated Magnano’s sentiment.
“We fought hard to come to the Olympics,” Machado said. “Now let’s go out and win. Will be a very good game and not think to avoid being second. We will play to win.”
Machado and Magnano seem to be a part of a general consensus that wants to win as Tiago Splitter, whose averaging 12 points and 5.5 rebounds through four games, said it would be “foolish” to lose purposefully.
Depending on whether Spain feels the same way, they should be expecting a fight — even though, by technicality, losing is a better option.