View from the bench: Playoffs, Game 1

Mar 23, 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.

When two teams with opposite trajectories face off in a series, how do you face the first game of the series? CSKA Moscow had won almost every game it played this season; Gescrap BB won barely what it needed to advance. For CSKA the answer would be an almost indestructible morale, and for Gescrap full of pride about playing its first ever Euroleague playoffs series.

I think we have to thank Coach Fotis Katsikaris’s team for starting the game with so much courage, even though that meant receiving the first basket only 12 seconds into the game after a good double team by D'Or Fischer on the pick-and-roll of Nenad Krstic for Ramunas Siskauskas. However, two players failed – Axel Hervelle by not pressing the passing lane and allowing Viktor Khryapa dish the easy assist to Krstic, and Aaron Jackson, who went too long without seeing the ball, only his man (Clip 1).

However, once this early mistake was corrected, Gescrap played aggressive and put CSKA in trouble as we can see in Clip 2, where Hervelle helps with a good double team in the pick-and-roll and when Khryapa gets the ball, Kostas Vasiliiadis defends well on the side and cuts off the pass to start a fastbreak, which was stopped by Khryapa himself with an unsportsmanlike foul, well called by the refs.

The aggressiveness was not only in defense; we can also see it in Clip 3, a fastbreak in which Jackson overwhelms Milos Teodosic with great speed to drive below the rim, force the help of several CSKA players and dish an assist to Vasiliiadis for a three from the corner, which put Gescrap ahead.

In the second quarter, the Russian team came out more aggressive and Andrey Vorontsevich managed to steal the ball with good defensive position in the pick-and-roll, and the ensuing fastbreak was finished by Andrei Kirilenko with ease, after a fake and a drive that he finished with his left hand, much to coach Jonas Kazlauskas's approval (Clip 4).

The game stayed close for much of the second quarter, but when Raul Lopez stepped on court, Jamont Gordon prevailed due to his bigger body. In the low post, he first managed to draw the foul and free throws. Later, when Gordon entered the low post and Vasiliiadis came to help with a double team, the CSKA guard managed to escape through the double team by passing the ball, which, after good ball circulation, Kirilenko drilled for a three to put his team ahead on the scoreboard (Clip 5).

A few moments before the halftime break, we can see in Clip 6 how Kirilenko runs – and very fast at that – the fastbreak after grabbing the rebound, passing the ball to Teodosic and getting it back to score with ease.

In the third quarter there was only one team, and that was CSKA. It also had the help of Gescrap BB, which played with a little less intensity on defense. We can see in Clip 7 the first of three straight triples by Teodosic. Jackson gets stuck in the pick with Krstic and Dimitrios Mavroeidis doesn't even help.

In Clip 8, the same play happens on the left side, with the same players involved. This time however, Jackson tries to go through.

To kill it off, it's Teodosic himself in the following offense, who drills another three, this time after an indirect screen. Again, however, without a help form the Gescrap big man (Clip 9).

To round off the spectacular plays in the third quarter, we see in Clip 10 how, after a steal, Kirilenko dribbles away on a fastbreak, moves the ball behind his back when the opponent tries to steal it at halfcourt, and then passes it to Gordon, who assists to Alexey Shved. Do not miss this play!