By Larry Fine
LONDON (Reuters) - Leandro Barbosa sparked a fourth-quarter comeback to lead Brazil to an 88-82 victory over Spain in an Olympic men's basketball seeding battle on Monday.
Brazil (3-2) took the game and the second seeding in Group B, but may have won the dubious honour of playing the mighty U.S. team in the semi-finals.
In defeat, Spain (3-2) finished third in the group, putting them in a bracket that could allow them to avoid meeting the defending champion U.S. team until a possible gold medal game rematch.
Led by Pau Gasol, who scored 25 points in the game, Spain led by nine points after the first quarter and were still ahead by nine at the start of the fourth quarter.
Barbosa scored eight unanswered points including back-to-back three-pointers to lift Brazil into a 75-75 tie with 4:15 left in the game.
A 9-1 run from that point by the athletic Brazilians put them firmly in control.
Barbosa, who plays for the NBA's Toronto Raptors, led Brazil with 23 points.
The late fade prompted a flood of questions from reporters about whether Spain had put in a full effort, a notion dismissed by Gasol.
"We had great stretches where we dominated. And then there's stretches where we're nowhere," said a disgruntled Gasol, who has won two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers.
It marked the second successive game that the 2008 silver medallists have lost control of a game down the stretch after falling in a fight for the group's top-seeding against Russia.
"With the way we're playing right now anyone can beat us," Gasol said. "We have to be consistent, to play 40 minutes with the same intensity."
(Additional reporting by Patrick Graham; Editing by ......)