Spain lost its chance to win Group B, then it was denied second place.
The 2008 silver medalists might actually be better off because of those defeats, but they know that slide has to stop.
In a rematch of the 2011 EuroBasket title game, Spain will try to end France's four-game winning streak in Wednesday's quarterfinal in London.
After defeating China, Australia and Britain to open preliminary play, Spain was prevented from taking the top spot in the group with Saturday's 77-74 loss to Russia, which overcame an 18-point deficit to put itself in good position to avoid the gold-medal favorite United States until the final.
The Spanish team would have been on the Americans' side of the bracket had they defeated Brazil on Monday, but it lost 88-82 to finish third in group play.
Now, either Brazil or Argentina is facing a likely semifinal against the U.S while Spain can't face the defending gold medalists until the final.
"No. Never,'' guard Jose Calderon said to dispel the notion Spain was trying to lose to avoid the Americans. "This is not our team, this is not the way we play, this is not the way. We've been together since I don't know how many years, and we always play to win. Always.''
Spain, No. 2 in FIBA's world rankings, could be in a better position to win Wednesday as captain Juan Carlos Navarro is improving after sitting against Australia and Britain due to plantar fasciitis and a back problem.
"I have better sensations on the court and that is a positive heading into the quarterfinals," Navarro, who has 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the last two games, told FIBA.com.
That does not bode well for France, which was denied the 2011 EuroBasket title as Navarro, the tournament MVP, scored a game-high 27 points in Spain's 98-85 victory Sept. 18 in Lithuania.
Finishing second there still gave the French their first Olympic spot since winning silver in Sydney, and they enter the knockout round on the heels of four consecutive wins since a 98-71 tournament-opening loss to the U.S.
Nicolas Batum leads France with 16.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, while Tony Parker is averaging 15.8 points and 3.6 assists.
Coach Vincent Collet should also have forward Florent Pietrus, older brother of NBA player Mickael, available after he missed the last two contests with a broken nose. That could be a huge lift against Spain's NBA frontline of Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol, who is tied with Australia's Patty Mills with a tournament-high 20.6 points per game.
"Of course I'm going to play," Pietrus said following Monday's 79-73 victory over Nigeria. "I had today to recover but this is the most important game of the tournament coming up."
Spain also understands there is no more room for error.
"Today we couldn't finish the 1st phase with a victory. The only thing we should concentrate on is our opponent in the quarters. #Team," Pau Gasol wrote on his Twitter account Monday.