View from the bench: Week 10

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.

Brose Baskets showed great fair play in the game won by Panathinaikos.

It's worth mentioning that this game didn't decide anything if Zalgiris defeated KK Zagreb. In any case, Panathinaikos was going to be second in Group B, while Brose needed a Zalgiris loss in addition to beating the defending champs.

The German champs dominated the score for most of the game until, with 2:31 to finish and a 63-64 lead for Brose, Anton Gavel was called for a foul on Dimitris Diamantidis (Clip 1). When I talk about fair play by the visiting team I mean that, despite being clearly the losers in the 50/50 decisions by the referees, they just did what they had to: play as hard as they could. For Zeljko Obradovic's team, it was hard to face the game in a cold atmosphere, with few fans in such a big arena, probably due to the lack of importance of the outcome of the game. Panathinaikos always trailed until some defensive changes in the zone - with special rules - motivated the team enough at the beginning of the third quarter.

In most of the other games, there were many more one-on-one plays in the low post to directly score or generate an advantage for teammates. Both teams allowed the others to get the ball in that position. I will select a few examples among the many that were generated by players in that position.

In Clip 2 we see a basket by P.J. Tucker after a great assist from Predrag Suput under the rim and in Clip 3 we have another Suput assist, this time after dribbling for a baseline penetration so that Julius Jenkins hits the three after having gone to the corner to get the ball. In Clip 4 we also see Suput renouncing to the play when he is in the middle of a double team in the low post, and he goes out, again, penetrating and circulating the ball for a Karsten Tadda three on the opposite side.

Another master in the low post is Diamantidis, who we can see in Clip 5 dribbling and moving backwards. He attracts Nick Calathes's defender in a help that is too long. When Calathes manages to lose his defender, he moves to get the pass from Diamantidis and hit the three. Ian Vougioukas also did a move worthy of watching again as we can see in Clip 6.

Tibor Pleiss had a good performance also, even though he maed some rookie mistakes. He intimidated and dared to play, successfully, against Mike Batiste in the low post as we can see in Clip 7.

Batiste was another of the players that was successful in the low post in this game, but from him I will show you two defenses in which, when his man goes to the pick-and-roll, he plays a great double team. Batiste simply did it best during the game. In the first one (Clip 8) the defense is not as aggressive because he is a little late after having received a screen by Marcus Slaughter. Also there is a good rotation that allows Pleiss to score with a nice move without putting the ball down. In the next one (Clip 9) we see how Batiste's position creates difficulties for the German attackers, who turn the ball over.

The last clip, 10, is a genius move by Sarunas Jasikevicius, his special play. He looks and makes the pass before everyone even realizes that there is a pass flying around the court, as if he was doing nothing. His teammates Vougioukas and Kostas Kaimakoglu finish off the play perfectly.

Coach Chris Fleming's team did not advance to the Top 16, but I think they left a great feeling in the last games. And Panathinaikos, as almost always, played a decent first phase to advance and after that, will get better and better as the season advances.