Thursday, April 26, 2012
View from the bench: Analysis on Panathinaikos Athens
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.
After plenty of obstacles and a fifth playoff game against another classic team, Panathinaikos earned qualification to another Final Four.
Almost always, the Greens' performances during the season go from less to more, just like coach Zeljko Obradovic wants and plans. This year, as opposed to many of the others, Panathinaikos won't step into the semifinal as a favorite because the last obstacle it has before the title game is CSKA Moscow, a team that has shown the bigger potential so far this campaign. This factor, however, can be a little advantage for the Greens as they will have less pressure even though pressure has never been a big obstacle for Panathinaikos, as they have shown on countless occasions.
Panathinaikos is a team formed by players with strong character, starting with Dimitris Diamatidis, en excellent guard who scores from the long range, penetrates and even makes moves in the low post. He reads the game really well to direct the team and feed his teammates with assists. On top of it all, Diamantidis is a really smart player on defense, where he steals many balls.
In Clip 1 we can see him on a pick-and-roll with Mike Batsite, a play he likes to perform, using his great vision, many times during games. As we can see, he must choose between scoring or making the best pass, in this case to Sarunas Jasikevicius for a three-pointer.
In Clip 2 we can see another one of his virtues, playing in the low post. Again, Diamantidis is able to score or pass, as he does here for another three-pointer, by Nick Calathes, who also does a good job here of changing his position when his defender strays to help defend Diamantidis.
Diamantidis is helped in directing the team by Calathes, a strong and great defender, and by Sarunas Jasikevicius, of whose talent we all know. We can see in Clip 3, even though Saras ends up giving an imprecise pass, that Diamantidis still converts it for a three-pointer.
Another backcourt player is David Logan. He is a little more anarchic but he also contributes with aggressive one-on-ones.
Completing the perimeter, we must mention Steven Smith and Romain Sato, who is a serious, strong and tall player, plus a good defender. He helps the team with everything, especiallyi n rebounds and his good ratio of steals and blocks to turnovers.
At power forward, an emerging force in Panathinaikos is Kostas Kaimakoglou, who we can see in Clip 4 scoring a decisive triple in another variation of the central pick-and-roll that Obradovic's team performs with Diamantidis, Batiste and Kaimakoglou himself, who changes his position to hit a frontal shot.
Batiste is a very important player on the team because he knows how to play well both on offense and defense. In Clip 5 we can see him jump out aggressively against the screen and recover well, provoking a turnover with Kaimakoglou's help.
He also knows how to pass and plays well with his back to the basket, relying on his technique and body as we can see in Clip 6, where he uses the pass from Diamantidis for a jump hook.
From the rest of big men of the Greens I want to highlihght Ian Vougioukas, who also knows how to play with his back to the basket.
I am expecting a thrilling semifinal game between CSKA Moscow and Panathinaikos, in which the surprise factor could land in favor of the Greens. Adding to that, I think we might count on strategic defenses to be played by Panathinaikos, even though it must be said that the better the rivals, the more difficult it is to surprise them, because they have many resources to solve problems.
Aito Garcia Reneses - Barcelona, Spain