View from the bench: Top 16, Week 4

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

We were just short of seeing the old saying "faith moves mountains" become reality. After trailing throughout the game, the Anadolu Efes team of head coach Ufuk Sarica managed to tie the game at 65-65 with 16 seconds to go. Anadolu Efes did that thanks to courage and faith in the win, but after a foul with two free throws scored by Kostas Sloukas, the guests didnt score on their last offensive play due to the good defense of Olympiacos, who took the win home to Athens.

Its worth mentioning that in neither the first not third quarters did Efes manage to score more than 10 points, but it happened for different reasons each time.

At the beginning of the game, in front of the switching defenses of Olympiacos, the Turkish team rushed its offense and took fast outside shots whenever being defended by a zone. They missed all those shots from the arc, even though the positions they shot from were not bad. In the third quarter, however, Efes didnt score more because the defense of head coach Dusan Ivkovics Olympiacos team was really good.

Faced with a lack of accuracy on offense, Efes stayed in the game thanks to good defense, of which we can highlight the well-performed double-team against the pick-and-roll by players like Esteban Batista or Stanko Barac, who at first sight dont look like they could do that easily. However, at some points like in Clip 1, they were beaten by the Olympiacos offense. When Batista and Tarence Kinsey double-team, Vassilis Spanoulis goes backwards and manages to pass the ball to Richard Dorsey who, from the free throw line, feeds Pero Antic under the rim. By the way, Dorsey was much more efficient in this game than in previous efforts.

In Clip 2 we can see, likewise, a good double-team by Batista and Kinsey on Spanoulis, but on this occasion Sasha Vujacic reads the pass to Dorsey and intercepts it. In Clip 3 we see a smart play by Barac, who goes for the double-team, even though there is no screen, when Spanoulis is guarded by Oliver Lafayette. Barac turns his back on the action and then finds himself close to the ball for the steal.

Probably, all these plays, which were successful in themselves, also produced the positive side-effect of Spanoulis having less chances than usual to create.

Already in the second quarter we can see, in Clip 4, how Georgios Printezis gets the ball in the low post. When Barac gets ready for a possible double-team (which Efes usually does on the baseline), Printezis uses the situation to his advantage and gives a good pass to Dorsey.

In Clip 5 there is a nice connection of passes between Printezis and Antic. First, Printezis is in the low post to pass the ball to Antic at the three-point line. When Antic gets the ball, he penetrates and, with Barac recovering late, feeds Printezis again.

Spanoulis didnt have as many opportunities as usual to create danger, but he was important in the moments when the guests were getting closer and closer on the scoreboard. In Clip 6 we can see his screen-and-roll with Kyle Hines, which Barac blatantly sags off. After Spanoulis returns for another screen from Hines, he drives to the basket himself before Barac can recover. Barac was not there the double team, nor to help stop the penetration.

Watch Clip 7 and see how Dorsey used his quick hands to steal the ball from Barac and then had the confidence to dribble the length of the court for a basket.

Finally, at the end of this section highlighting Olympiacos players, we have to mention Printezis, who made 2 of 4 three-pointers, and Kostas Papanikolaou, who had a complete performance. He chose well the moments in which he had to penetrate straight to the basket to score, like we see in Clips 8 and 9. In the first one, after good ball circulation, he manages to receive the ball with his defender, Vujacic, far way and he uses it to make a crossover dribble in penetration, getting the basket and one. In the last clip we can see a similar offensive move, even though this time Vujacic was waiting for him at the arc. But since Papanikoulaou was coming on the run, he faked a penetration to the left and made another crossover to the basket.

As happens many times, when a team doesn't have anything to lose, it's easier to hit incredible shots and that's what happened to Efes when the team came back in the last moments of the game. However, we have to make clear that one of the player who scored late threes, Lafayette, had already been scoring them throughout the game. Anadolu Efes needed only to finish it off, but couldn't. As such, it was an important step ahead toward the playoffs for Olympiacos.

Videos by Manuel Hurtado