By Panos Katsiroubas firstname.lastname@example.org
We have reached the 2nd round of the 1st group phase and the situation in some groups became clearer and in some others is still complicated. The teams still have a lot of ups and downs and the games are unpredictable. Let’s have a look into the action of this week
A huge THANK YOU!!
There is nothing to say about the tactical part in the game in Istanbul, but only a huge thank you for one of the greatest games in Euroleague History!! Special thanks to:
* Carlos Arroyo who played 50 minutes without a second of rest and scored huge baskets in the end of regulation and the 2 overtimes!
* Zoran Erceg for his unbelievable shot that equalize the game in the end of regulation and had an unbelievable 32 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 0 turnovers and a ranking of 41!!
* Kerem Gonlum in age 38 fight like a warrior against the giant Boban Marjanovic and scored very important points in the most critical parts of the game!
* Marcus Williams who set a new Euroleague record with 17 assist, with some of the being very impressive and fancy!!
* Boban Marjanovic that was a real dominator and factor in both end with 23 points and 17 rebounds
* Luka Mitrovic for being so talented. He finished the game with 30 points and huge plays. 2nd game in a row for him with great performance after the 17 points and 6 boards in the game against Baskonia.
* Nikola Kalinic for being a real dagger and clutch player in all the shots that count.
It was a game that will be remembered for ages, a game that remind us why we love the game!
The best team lost
In 3 games this week the team that played better for the biggest part of the game lost. This happen in Kazan, Piraeus and Kaunas.
In Kazan, Efes played much better for almost 30 minutes but in the end they lost the game. For 30 minutes the Turkish side created some very good plays and open shots and was in total control of the game. Their defense was very well prepared and they didn’t let any of the stars of Unics to have rhythm in the offensive end. They controlled totally the tempo of the game and they reached a +15 point deficit in the 3rd quarter.
But in the 4th quarter came the black out for Efes. They made some cheap mistakes leading to transition opportunities that Unics took advantage of. And when the game became close, the isolation plays was the main offensive weapon. In this part Unics has maybe the best player in Euroleague, Keith Langford who was outstanding in the 4th quarter, after 30 minutes of disappearance in the court. The biggest problem for Efes was that they lost their concentration and didn’t react well to their transition defense in the end. The problem of Unics is still the individualism in offensive end. The number of 11 assists shows how much this team depends on individual plays. Sure there is a lot of work for the new coach in Kazan.
More or less the same story in the game between Olympiacos and Valencia. Olympiacos played well for only 13 minutes in the 1st half. At this time the reds were moving the ball excellent in offense with great pick n roll plays that Dunston finished in the paint, with co operations and automations in the perimeter. Since that moment Valencia controlled the game and created a lot of problems for Olympiacos. They improved their transition defense, they used zone that blocked the ball movement and the pick n roll plays for the reds, leading them to bad shooting decisions especially from the 3pt line and also many turnovers. Moreover they managed to protect their paint from penetrations and pick n roll plays and blocked totally the inside game of Olympiacos.
The Spanish team showed also an offensive variety with jumpers from Ribas just after the screens, with pick n rolls, and also game in the post especially with Dubljevic who created many problems and scored 16 points in 18 minutes. Vives and Lucic were the key factors mostly in defense giving also important help in the offensive end. In all 2nd half Valencia had the image of winner but in the end Olympiacos won the game because of their defense. They started to be more aggressive in the press on the ball and they played tough in the limits of foul. Also in offense they scored some big shots even though they were not executed under the best circumstances. In the end it was a result that maybe the reds didn’t deserve in the best game of Valencia in the competition. They are in 1-5 record now but they have the quality to advance.
Zalgiris and Real Madrid played a classic in Kaunas with Real winning in the end after a comeback and a partial score 1-12 in the last 4 minutes. Zalgiris was the team to impress again with their tactical commitment in the defensive plan and the nice co-operations and plays in the offensive end. Real Madrid was better in the 1st period but then the game was all Zalgiris. They totally stopped the transition of Real Madrid, they also stopped the penetrations of Llull and Sergio and limited a lot the inside game from all the post players of the Spanish team. For 25 minutes (from 10’-35) they allowed only 32 points to Real Madrid. This is very rare for the Spanish giants. In the offensive end Zalgiris used all of their strengths. Isolation plays and plays with screens and execution from James Anderson, post-game from Jankunas and Songaila when Nocioni was used as power forward.
Real Madrid was saved because they found ways to stop Zalgiris in the last 4 minutes in their defensive end allowing only 1 point at that time. Two other aspects that saved Real Madrid in this game was their dominance in the offensive rebounds that finished the game with a +9 number and also the only 6 turnovers that committed during a game they faced huge press from the defense of Zalgiris. Summarizing we can assume that Zalgiris lost a game that was well deserved of winning it, because of their plan and the way they prepared this game.
Miracles in Klaipeda
Neptunas took their 3rd home win against Laboral Kutxa and in our opinion they need one more win to have clear opportunities of advancing in the Top 16. Watching the game was almost insane that the team from Lithuania had the edge for almost the whole game. Baskonia had a size advantage with both Iverson and Begic, they totally controlled the boards with +14 offensive rebounds.
In total Baskonia had more rebounds, more assists, less turnovers, almost 20 possessions more and finally they lost the game.
This happened mainly because of 3 reasons.
1. Poor execution and many shots under the worst circumstances
2. Very bad defense in total. Problems in transition, in man to man plays and mistakes in switches and close out defenses.
3. The way that Neptunas plays. They have players even in center position that can execute from distance and forwards that can put the ball on the floor and create for themselves and their teammates
It was a pity for Thomas Heurtel and his unbelievable performance. He created the comeback of Baskonia, he scored from everywhere including 8 3-pointers finishing the game with 31 points. In the end he missed the last 3 shots that could have given the win to his team including a last second jumper.
Barcelona played an unbelievable 2nd quarter in Munich to finish the game very early. They moved the ball excellent in offense, with many screens away from the ball and movement of all players with or without the ball. Bayern couldn’t follow in any way and found themselves trailing by 22. In the 1st half Barca had almost 60% in both 2pt and 3pt field goals and 14 assists with Marcelinho playing his best game so far. Bayern completed a 4 game losing streak with defense being their biggest problem.
Against them almost any team sets a new offensive team record in Euroleague this year. In the last 4 games they allowed 81 points against Milano, 89 against Turow, 93 against Fenerbahce and 99 against Barcelona. This is an average of more than 90 points, number that prohibits any thought of winning.
Maccabi won in Limoges after a thriller that few would expect after the first 25 minutes. After the balanced 1st period, Maccabi started to roll in offense, trying to run and execute in transition whenever this was possible. With penetrations and split out passes the created many open shots especially for Landesberg who had a great offensive game. They gained an 18 point lead midway 3rd quarter but at this time everything changed. Limoges started to use zone and half court press with traps and double teams creating many problems to the Israeli team. In offense Westermann had a huge game with 16 points and 8 assists. They made a run of 30-10 (from 38-56 to 68-66) and created a thrilling finale. In the end it was a matter of luck and experience. Pargo hit a huge 3pointer and added a driving lay-up in transition for a 0-5 in the last minute which gave the win to Maccabi. The European champs need to improve and be more stable during their games.
Fenerbahce took a very important win in Milano that secures their position in the Top 16. The key point in this game was the defense of the Turkish team in the 2 middle quarters that gave them a big advantage leading to the 4th quarter. They forced Milano to take some very difficult shots in their offensive end and limited their offensive strengths. A surprising aspect in this period was Semih Erden who finally played a great game in both ends, scoring 12 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. He moreover protected the rim from the penetrations and he was a factor in both ends. Surprising Fenerbahce won the battle in the paint and took a lot of help from a position (center) that was problematic in all the previous games. With threat from the paint Fenerbahce can become even more dangerous, because they will lead their opponents to try to protect also the paint and this will create spaces for Goudelock, Hickman, Preldzic and all the other talented players in the backcourt of the Turkish team.
Panathinaikos also won in Poland but not in a way most of us expected. Panathinaikos in this game took help from players that till now had limited participation in the games. Slaughter and Batista were closed from the Polish defense and had limited contribution in the game. Turow took the risk to give open shots for the power forwards of Panathinaikos in order to close all the other options but James Gist punished them in the 1st half. In the 2nd half it was all Loukas Mavrokefalidis. The center of Panathinaikos who faced injuries in the beginning of the season, was the total dominator in both ends. He scored 21 points in 22 minutes with only 1 missed field goal, grabbed 6 rebounds and played also great defense.
In the previous 5 games Batista, Slaughter and Jankovic averaged a total of 41 points. In this game the score only 10 but still Panathinaikos scored almost 80 points and won the game easily. This exuberance in scoring is a very important factor for the Greens.