View from the bench: Top 16, Week 6

Mar 02, 2012 by Aito Garcia Reneses - Barcelona, Spain Print
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.

Panathinaikos needed a win to be group champ, and so it was.

If Unics didn't win the game, it could advance just the same with an EA7 Emporio Armani victory over Fenerbahce Ulker. That also happened. It's usually difficult to win on a court where the hosts have nothing to lose but honor.

Panathinaikos played a smart game and managed to win after dominating the score throughout, albeit with small advantages. Its domination started thanks to great defense onHenry Domercant, with Nick Calathes taking the responsibility to shut him down. Calathes never allowed Domercant to get the ball in the first quarter except for a fastbreak on which the Unics scored managed to make a three-pointer. After that, when Calathes was not on court, the job was continued by Dimitris Diamantidis, but in this case Panathinaikos alternated zone defenses with man to man and full-court pressure, which I am guessing was what coach Zeljko Obradovic wanted so that Diamantidis wasn't stuck to Domercant all the time.

In Clip 1 we can see how Calathes makes it hard for Domercant to get the ball and how, at the same time, Nathan Jawai is called for an offensive foul. By the way, Jawai played an interesting game with some mistakes that I am sure he can keep fixing in the future. Players with these physical features - tall and big - normally need more time to settle down as players.

Taking into account that few balls that reached Domercant, Kelly McCarthy had more chances to score. Let's see in Clip 2 his unusual way of receiving the ball in the low post to play one-on-one. He finally takes a turnaround jumper. Not only did McCarthy score but he also managed to register four (!) blocks, which shows his good timing at this kind of play. Not bad for a 36-year-old!

With less than 20 minutes on court, Sarunas Jasikevicius was the player with the highest index rating for the Greens. He did not miss a shot all night. He playes on many occasions at the same time as Diamantidis who, in Clip 3 is the player with the higher merit to hit a three-pointer after the not-so-accurate pass from Saras. But I choose this play because it's unusual to see how two magicians can pass the ball with seemingly no difficulties.

In Clip 4 we can see how a pick-and-roll by Diamantidis, working with the dangerous Mike Batiste, provokes help defense that lasts too long from Petr Samoylenko. He doesn't allow himself time to recover to challenge a Jasikevicius three-pointer.

In Clip 5 we see how Jasikevicius and Batiste are aware of a possible need help to defend Domercant, which allows for an easy basket by Jawai.

We will be able to keep enjoying Domercant's game in the playoffs. This time he played a complete game again. First, he was patient and didn't force bad shots when he hardly received any passes, but made some good ones of his own, as in Clip 6. He also drew fouls and scored with good percentages. In Clip 7, we can see him playing one-on-one against Diamantidis and hitting a three in the moments when Panathinaikos could have pulled away on the scoreboard. The defensive fakes of David Logan and Kostas Kaimakoglou didn't allow Domercant to use much space, but being his self-confidence and good technique let him fake the penetration and step back for the shot.

At this point in the game, the duel in Milan was already over, and Fenerbahce Ulker had lost, which meant that Unics was also in the playoffs. That allowed for joy among the crowd in Kazan. It marks a great success by the team of coach Evgeny Pashutin in its first Euroleague appearance ever.

Let's finish with another three-pointer in Clip 8. This time from a player that normally doesn't make much noise, Kaimakoglou, but who contributes many things to Panathinaikos. This time, he was the one to hit the bucket that would break the game open.

Now it's on to the playoffs for both teams!

Videos by Manuel Hurtado