View from the bench: Week 7
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 F.C. 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 coach's point of view and analysis on Turkish Airlines Euroleague games.
It was a shame that Andrei Kirilenko could not play for CSKA against Brose Baskets in Bamberg, Germany on Wednesday; first, because of the injury itself, and second, because he's been playing great lately, making a lot of good decisions on the court. He has matured a lot in that aspect of the game.
His absence changed the role of Viktor Khryapa, who up to this point was contributing less, and with lower averages, that we usually see from him. In the first six games, he had averaged 5.5 points, but against Brose Baskets, he scored 24. He was outstanding shooting from long range, with 5 of 5 three-pointers made, while until Wednesday he had made just 6 of 19. This normally happens that when there is an important absence in a team: some other player steps up. Usually, it happens with a quality player like Khryapa.
In Clips 1 and 2, we see a couple of his three-pointers. In the first, the opportunity comes from teamwork that includes a clear-out on Alexey Shved, which makes his defender doubt whether to rotate, giving Khryapa enough time for an open shot. In the second, despite being well defended by P.J. Tucker, Khryapa generates his own shooting space with a fake.
Both teams knew how to play against all the situations presented by the opponent. They switched man-to-man defenses with both full-court and normal zone defenses.
One of the few times that the full-court zone press was successful for Brose Baskets can be seen in Clip 3, as we see CSKA's Jamont Gordon dribble too much and eventually turn the ball over. Most other times, CSKA Moscow managed to attack well against the full-court zone, which makes the fact that both teams kept pressing the whole game even more worthy of mention. Often, when there is no quick success on a specialty defense like the full-court zone press, many teams abandon it.
In the first quarter, CSKA created some problems for Bamberg with its alternative defenses, especially the normal zone. Those problems ended when the Brose Baskets players showed awareness and called the play head coach Chris Fleming wanted. The play is executed well and there is a screen that leaves PJ Tucker under the board for an alley-oop, as we see in Clip 4.
Little big man
When young Tibor Pleiss is not on the court, Brose Baskets plays with big men who are quite small for their positions, none taller than 2.03 meters. Those players are Marcus Slaughter and Predrag Suput, but sometimes Tucker - who normally plays small forward - will move to power forward. That creates some awkwardness for the opposing big men, who are not used to facing players with such mobility. Slaughter, who last season played small forward a lot in the Spanish League, with Valladolid, has proven that he can play inside, too, by relying on his strength, smartness and versatility.
In Clips 5 and 6, against Nenad Krstic and Khryapa, we see Slaughter show both his basketball IQ and his strength. In the first case, he plays good team basketball to solve well the difficulties presented by the CSKA defense. In the second, he plays one-on-one, using great dribbling skills. Slaughter played a complete game: he was not only efficient and spectacular on offense, but also on defense, whether playing inside or going outside on switches. Let's see his anticipation on defense in Clip 7.
Not to forget the decider
I don't want to finish this entry without mentioning more the winning team of head coach Jonas Kazlauskas. CSKA normally led on the scoreboard thanks to the floor generalship of a player who is actually a scoring guard, Milos Teodosic. He controls the game perfectly and dishes assists like the ones we can see in Clips 8 and 9. In the first one, he deceives Pleiss, who is out to defend some other player. In the second clip, Teodosic passes from the dribble with his left hand, with great precision, for another of many connections with Krstic.
Once more, Teodosic showed he is a great scorer by hitting the last-second game-winning shot on the buzzer. Of course, his hand does not even tremble, and he avoids overtime. So ended a beautiful and enjoyable game with great atmosphere in Bamberg.
AITO GARCIA RENESES - BARCELONA
Friday, December 02, 2011