By Panos Katsiroubas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The marathon of top 16 started this week and will be in our attention for the next 4 months. It was an impressive start with close games, big wins and surprises. Let’s get a closer look in this week’s action.
Top class game in Istanbul!!
We watched a very beautiful and entertaining game in Istanbul with CSKA winning in overtime and staying the only undefeated team in Euroleague. Fenerbahce overall played better than CSKA with the exception of their defense in the first 15 minutes where the Russians scored almost 40 points.
We saw a different rotation from Obradovic with the addition of Zisis. Fener distributed the ball better with good passes in the week side and good vision of the court especially from Zisis and Bjelica. They also had some good looks inside for Zoric and Vesely and in general they were more productive than in previous games. The Turkish team tried to attack Teodosic and we saw even screens between Goudelock and Zisis in order to create isolations with the player that Teodosic guarded.
The key for CSKA was the duo of Hines and Vorontsevich that played huge defense in switches and stopped many opportunities for penetration. These two were the key players for the win of CSKA. They also scored some big baskets but the difference came from their defense. De Colo and especially Weems had many bad choices during the game, they didn’t pass the ball enough to find the best option and took some difficult shots. It was a real quality game in Istanbul.
Slaughter, Felipe and transition!
Real Madrid won a balanced game in Belgrade and the keys of this win were the following three.
Marcus Slaughter: He didn’t have any role in the rotation of the Spanish side but in this game he made the difference. He stopped the passes to Marjanovic stepping in front of him with his athleticism and stopped the basic weapon of Red Star in offense. Marjanovic scored 7pts in the 1st with Slaughter on the bench and only 2 in the following 30 minutes.
Felipe Reyes: Even though Real Madrid has 4 centers he is the player that gives the biggest offensive help in the post-up game. He scored baskets in periods of the game during which Real Madrid had problematic ball distribution and faced huge problems from the defense of Red Star.
Transition: Real Madrid create a run from their defense and their transition offense in the 3rd quarter. They did achieve a 15-0 run in less than 3 minutes with defensive stops and Sergio Rodriguez making great passes for open shots. Five straight 3-pointers, a 15-0 run and Real took the boost needed to win the game.
Santa Spanoulis, Defense and the mistake of Plaza
In Malaga we watched one of the best games of Spanoulis this year in Euroleague. The leader of Olympiakos had 11 points and 10 assists in a close, low scoring game. Spanoulis punished the tactic of Plaza to give help in defense from the side of the ball and not from the week side. They stopped his penetrations but they left the court open and gave him some very good looks. Spanoulis had 10 assists and many passes that stretched the defense and led to baskets after the extra pass.
The defense of Olympiakos was also huge. They didn’t give anything easy for Malaga. Especially Lafayette put a lot of press in the ball. Moreover Petway, Printezis and the centers of Olympiakos had good defensive positioning and succeed from keeping the ball off the paint. Transition defense was exceptional with all the stops needed even with fouls and Malaga never found any kind of rhythm in offense. The result was Malaga having 16/57 field goals and only 61 points (their worst offensive performance this year). The team from Andalusia has now five straight losses in Euroleague.
Alba shocked Barcelona in Berlin and took an easy win. The German team played incredible defense after the first 15 minutes allowing only 35 points in more than 25 minutes. They put a lot of pressure in the ball and only Marcelinho found some open looks and good looks, because of his experience.
The biggest problem of Barcelona was the defensive end. The depth of their defense was really bad, nowhere to be found in reality. They allowed many baskets from guards’ penetrations and also after pick ‘n’ roll plays with the ball on the floor from Mclean and Radosevic. Alba finished the game with 29/54 2pt shots but the percentage of the shots in the paint was close to 70%. Barcelona had absences but lost the game because of their defense. Alba played an excellent game and especially at home will be for sure a dangerous opponent for every team.
These two games had more or less the same progress and outcome. The teams that lost, were better in the first 3 quarters but defense made the difference in the 4th period in both games.
Panathinaikos faced huge problems for three quarters. The defense of the Greek team was very poor. Maccabi found ways to score either with isolations, but mostly with pick ‘n’ roll plays for Tyus with the guards of Panathinaikos not pressing the ball effectively and Batista being really slow to follow Tyus. Moreover the Israeli team opened the court with good passes in the week side for open jumpers. In the 4th quarter everything changed and this started from the pressure on the ball. Nelson was the key, he was attacking every screen he faced and didn’t let easy passes. Gist played very well the game of switches in defense and protected the rim from penetrations.
In offense Panathinaikos had miss matches all night long, as a result of Maccabi’s defense, but especially in the 1st half they put the ball in the post almost in every play. Still, they were not effective. In the 2nd half they opened their offense and took some shots from the perimeter after miss match situations. That proved to be the game changer.
In Vitoria Baskonia was better for three quarters but in the end Efes put a wall in front of their basket. Baskonia is a new team with Begic, James, Adams and Hansbrough all additions of the last month and it’s not so easy to scout them as a team. That was mainly the reason that Efes was surprised in the beginning. The Spanish team found open transition in the 1st half but in the second half the defense of Efes became really strong. Lasme was huge in defensive switches again and Baskonia didn’t find spaces to attack. In the last three minutes Efes made a run of 11-1 to win the game.
In offense Perperoglou was the main weapon with his post-up game and his passes in the perimeter. Lasme took advantage of the double teams in the post to hit 5 mid-range jumpers that punish the way Baskonia choose to play defense. In the end Janning also hit some big shots from the perimeter in isolation plays. Heurtel was not a factor in his 1st game.
The 4 were great!
Nizhny played a very good team game in Milano with the quartet of Rochestie, Kinsey, Thompkins and Parakhouski being great. Nizhny had a huge 3rd quarter that practically seale the game with a 28-9 run. They were excellent with great plays and creation from Rochestie. The defense of Milan was very bad, especially in pick ‘n’ roll situations. Thompkins and Parakhouski scored some very easy baskets. Rochestie finished with 19 points and 8 assists.
On the other hand Milano had in total 9 assists, just one more than Rochestie. They didn’t play as a team and if we exclude Hackett who drained 6 assists all the others had the unbelievable low number of 3 assists. Hackett had a bad offensive night and this was the main reason of the poor scoring performance from Olympia Milano. Parakhouski and Thompkins had great stops in the paint and played huge defense. Milano has to be more TEAM than individual players, we are really bored of writing this every week. Nizhny is the team with the biggest defensive improvement as the competition proceeds.