Tuesday, April 24, 2012
View from the bench: Analysis on Olympiacos Piraeus
World-renowned as a master teacher of basketball, Aito Garcia Reneses holds a place as one of the most prestigious coaches in Europe. He won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics to go with a ULEB Cup, two Korac Cups, nine Spanish Leagues and five Spanish Cup titles, just to name a few of his accomplishments in almost four decades on the benches of basketball powers like FC Barcelona, Joventut Badalona and Unicaja. Aito, as everyone in European basketball knows him, is also a regular contributor to the Mastermind Coaching Seminars of the Euroleague Basketball Institute. He joins Euroleague.net to give his coachs point of view and analysis on Turkish Airlines Euroleague games.
As does each of the four teams in the event, Olympiacos Piraeus has options to become the champion. After the success of advancing to the Final Four with, theoretically, a less powerful team than last year, the Reds can face the challenge in Istanbul with optimism and joy – because they won't have pressure. They are not, for most people, favorites to win the title.
The Reds have strengthened their roster during the season with Richard Dorsey, who has helped the team maintain a good competitive level while filling in for Lazaros Papadopoulos during his injuries. At the time of writing these lines, it is still not known which players Olympiacos head coach Dusan Ivkovic will have healthy and available for the Final Four. Still, Ivkovic has managed to improve the potential of his team with two factors: putting greater order in the team's playing style as the season progressed, and stamping the team with his trademark seriousness.
The most important player on Olympiacos is Vassilis Spanoulis. He is a scoring guard, a good shooter and a penetrator with great individual skills and great ability to change rhythms. He is also capable of dishing good assists to his teammates.
In Clip 1 we can see him in action, reading a the pressure defense from his opponent and taking advantage of screens set by Kyle Hines. He then overwhelms his defender with speed and challenges the help of Efes Pilsen center Stanko Barac to complete a beautiful layup.
In Clip 2 we can see Spanoulis make several changes of direction: the first, moving his defender, Igor Rakocevic of Montepaschi Siena, into the best position to use a screen from Dorsey; the second, dribbling between his legs to start the screen-and-roll; and the third, with Rakocevic beaten, attacking David Andersen with a right-side penetration to attract more Siena defenders. The lets Evangelos Mantzaris catch his defender, Bo McCalebb, off-guard and finishes off his own penetration by changing hands to score on Andersen.
Other Olympiacos backcourt players that are good shooters are Martynas Gecevicius, Marko Keselj and Kostas Sloukas, apart from the emerging Mantzaris, who we saw in the previous clip. We cannot forget about Kostas Papanikolaou, who is not such a great shooter but a good all-around player. We can see him in action in Clip 3, finishing off a nice fastbreak.
In the inside game, the biggest players are Papadopoulos, a good passer, and Dorsey, who has an impressive physical build, strength and speed. We can see some of their qualities in Clip 4.
Alternating the center position with them is Hines, who is under 2 meters tall. He has great intensity and solid jumping abilities as we can see in Clip 5, where he makes a huge block on Nenad Krstic.
Finally, the power forward spot is occupied by Pero Antic – the strong and tough choice – and Georgios Printezis – the fast choice – who contribute versatility and quality to their team. As we can see in the last clip, they sometimes play simultaneously, too. Printezis, after getting the ball in the low post and starting a one-on-one move, kicks the ball out to Antic, who gets to the basket easily against Barac, who was sagging too heavily. After the penetration, Antic feeds the ball, switching hands, to Printezis.
Summarizing, Olympiacos is a team that has legitimate aspirations heading to Istanbul. The Reds have many possible tactical variations due to the different styles of the players on their roster and the lack of the kind of pressure that "forces" them to win.
Aito Garcia Reneses - Barcelona, Spain