View from the bench: Top 16, Week 3

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 coachs point of view and analysis on Turkish Airlines Euroleague games.

The performances of Henry Domercant, even better than in previous seasons, are helping the Unics Kazan team of head coach Evgeny Pashutin play good basketball and surprise many with three wins in three games to start the Top 16. The offense of Unics starts working with Domercants outside shot threat, and this lets the player himself do what used to be his major virtue easily: penetrating with great power. Going into this game having made 34 of 64 three-pointers, more than a 53%, obviously influences the defense of the rivals, and creates more free spaces for his teammates.

In Clip 1 we can see how Domercant starts by scoring for three easily. It is a good collective effort, starting with the penetration of Terrell Lyday. He then stops, spins and moves the ball outside after having played a pick-and-roll in which Petr Samoylenko feeds Domercant when he switches positions. Look at how well he stops, just in time!

Lyday, in his fourth season with the team, is able to score after some good EA7 Emporio Armani defense, as we can see in Clip 2. As an example of how serious this team is, we can see (even better in the replay) how Pashutin asks Lyday to get back on defense instead of asking the ref for a foul call.

Another interesting player on the Unics perimeter is Kelly McCarty: he does a little bit of everything and always helps his teams win. He is not a shot-blocking specialist but in this game he had an interesting one, letting the player pass and then jumping from behind to block with his left hand, as seen in Clip 3.

Halfway through the third period, after a pick-and-roll, and taking advantage of poor defensive communication between Omar Cook, who goes above the screen from behind, and Leon Radosevic, who goes out to fake a double-team, Petr Samoylenko uses the confusion to feed Aleksey Savrasenko in Clip 4. That practically decided, giving Unics an18-point advantage, while Milan kept missing its shots. A little after this play, EA7 had was just 2 of 19 from the three-point arc. The guests from Milan also didnt know how to attack the double-team defenses of Unics on the base line and in the low post, as we see in the next clips. From that, we can understand why Milan couldnt score much, even though Drew Nicholas and Alessandro Gentile scored 3 three-pointers in a row in the fourth quarter to get closer on the score-board.

Clip 5: At the start of the game, when Stefano Mancinelli gets the ball in the low post, his defender, Domercant, guards him form above and Savrasenko abandons his man on the other side to double team. Lyday stays with Gentile and Ioannis Bourousis. Even though Gentile could get the pass from Mancinelli, he cannot score because he is intimidated as a fast Savrasenko soon recovers his position.

Clip 6: When Bourousis gets the ball in the low post, there is no double team because, perhaps worrying about that possibility, he passes the ball to the opposite side. Here you can see in the rotation of the Unics players. Mike Wilkinson was ready for the double team under the rim, so Antonis Fotsis, his responsibility, is defended instead by Domercant, who rotates. When the ball gets to Gentile, who was Domercants man, Wilkinson is there to guard him.

Pashutins team not only defended well in the post with the double-team we commented, but on other occasions, like in Clip 7, prevented inside passes as Bostjan Nachbar does here, defending Mancinelli front in front of him, while Vlaidmir Veremeenko helped from behind. Later, Veremeenko recovered fast to disturb the shot of Mason Rocca.

To summarize, that great inside defense of Unics, together with the low outside shooting percentages of Milan, almost left the visitors with no options to score.

We can see in Clip 8 the best feature of Cooks offense, the assist. First, Nicholas plays a pick-and-roll and forces Cooks defender to help. That allows Cook to get the ball with a good advantage and leave his defender behind. When Cook sees the chance, he gets the ball to Rocca, who scores underneath the basket. In this game, we didnt see Cook doing this as much as he normally does because his teammates didnt score from outside and Unics defended really well inside.

The best player in Milan head coach Sergio Scariolos team was Nicolo Melli. He is the one who fought the hardest. Even though everyone in the Italian team tried to play hard but they could not overcome misunderstandings in offense.

Videos by Manuel Hurtado