View from the bench: Week 5

Aito Garcia RenesesWorld-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 to give his coach's point of view and analysis on Turkish Airlines Euroleague games.

After last week's game between Bennet Cantu and Olympiacos, I talked about the great offensive play of Cantu based on the versatility of some inside players and the quality of its backcourt players.

Today I'd like to highlight the versatility of Maarten Leunen, a 2.06-meter forward who can score from three-point land and also penetrate to pass the ball, as we can see in these two plays below. He can also read the situation well while doing one thing or the other.

Many teams nowadays look for power forwards who can defend opponents close to and far from the basket, and who also can create the same problems for whoever tries to defend them. Power forwards who do those things complement their teammates by creating a lot of space that prevents defenses from sagging and clogging the paint.

The offensive game of Cantu created many problems for Fenerbahce Ulker because of the great attacking capacities and game reading by Andrea Trinchieri's team. The Italian squad used the pick-and-roll many times. It was defended by the Turkish side in different ways, but those defensive alternatives - which is the ideal thing to do - also can create confusion among the defenders, at least until they are learned well enough to limit mistakes against teams that play well.

Bojan Bogdanovic played well in the low post as we can see in the clips below. The first time he gets close to the basket while guarded by Nicolas Mazzarino, who is 20 centimeters shorter than him, he scores one on one. In the second clip, we can see the team work so he can get the ball in the low post, and later how James Gist and Gasper Vidmar charge well for the offensive rebound. I also want to mention the magnificent and powerful fastbreaks finishes of Bogdanovic, scoring with his left hand.

The change of momentum, after many minutes in which Cantu had dominated, was due to great pressure applied by Neven Saphija's players on defense above the three-point line, as can be seen here:

When, a few minutes before the final buzzer, the advantage on the scoreboard was clear for Fenerbahce Ulker, two technical fouls against them and some mistakes allowed Mazzarino's open three-pointer from the corner to force overtime, again changing the momentum of the game.

When the score was close again, however, FB Ulker got it right by going to Oguz Savas, who used his strength to prevail over the big men of Cantu.

I will end as well as the game ended, with a faraway three by Gianluca Basile. It is true that it would not affect the final outcome of the game, but it's good practice to play until the final buzzer, especially when point differences can separate tied teams at the end of the phase.