It was a heartbreaking ending for the Australia’s men’s basketball team and Belleville native Kevin Lisch on Sunday at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Australia’s bid to bring home its first Olympic medal in men’s basketball came up short when Spain got two free throws by Sergio Rodriguez with 5.4 seconds remaining and then held off the Aussies’ final possession in an 89-88 victory.
Pau Gasol of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs led the way for Spain with 31 points and 11 rebounds. Gasol’s Spurs teammate, Patty Mills, topped Australia with 30 points as star forward Andrew Bogut fouled out early in the second half.
Lisch, an Althoff High graduate and former St. Louis University standout, was making his Olympics debut after gaining Australian citizenship earlier this year. He did not score in the bronze medal game but tied for the Australian team lead with six rebounds in 10 minutes, 33 seconds of playing time.
The lead changed hands 14 times in the final five minutes as the teams kept trading big shots and free throws. Aron Baynes’ hook shot with 9.7 seconds remaining put Australia on top before a controversial foul call sent Rodriguez to the free-throw line with 5.4 seconds to play.
Rodriguez hit both shots, giving the Boomers one more shot at a medal. Spain applied tight defensive pressure and knocked the ball away, keeping the Aussies from scoring as time expired.
In eight games at the Olympics. Lisch averaged 2.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists for the Boomers. He finished with 21 points overall.
Lisch starred at SLU after an all-state career at Althoff, then began playing professionally in Australia.
Australia fell to 5-3 at the Olympics after losing previously to Team USA in a pool play game and in a rematch against Serbia in the semifinals.
Lisch’s best scoring output was seven points in the Olympic opening victory against France. He also had five points and six assists in a pool play victory over China.
Lisch is a two-time Most Valuable Player in Australia’s National Basketball League and will play with the NBL’s Sydney Kings next season.