Wednesday, September 08, 2010

2010 FIBA Worlds: Quarterfinal Analysis (Serbia-Spain)

Serbia 92, Spain 89

Spain made Serbia and Milos Teodosic look foolish the last time they met, in the 2009 EuroBasket final, winning 85-63. Teodosic made sure it did not happen twice in row. Teodosic isolated Jorge Garbajosa up high after a switch on a pick-and-roll, then unleashed a 28-footer with the clock winding down to give Serbia a 92-89 lead with 0:03 remaining. After hitting on just 1-7 3PA in the game--and just 10-34 3PA for the FIBA World Championship--Teodosic (the Euroleague MVP, who hit 43% of his 3s in that competition) delivered when it mattered most. Spain failed to get off a last-second shot, allowing Serbia to advance to the semifinals to face Turkey, who crushed Slovenia 95-68.

Similar feel to the Argentina-Brazil battle with great back-and-forth action throughout the Serbia-Spain game--had players on both sides making professional plays. If Serbia would make a big play, Spain would respond with one of its own.

Spain got burned by the Serbs on the 3-point line. Serbia scorched the nets with 15-for-30 from long range and it seemed Serbia had too many open looks. Serbia's open looks often seemed to arise from Spain getting mixed up either in transition or in early offense situations. Also, it seemed as though Serbia scored some buckets on broken plays where Spain did good job initially stopping a play, but had its defense get out of position.

Serbia had multiple guys bury clutch 3-pointers throughout the game. Milos Teodosic (2-8), Novica Velickovic (3-6), Dusko Savanovic (2-4), Nemanja Bjelica (3-3) and Marko Keselj (5-6) all hit big 3-pointers.

Serbia came out of the gates hot, shooting 11-for-16 overall, 4-for-7 from 3-point land. Spain wasn't too bad either, shooting 9-for-19 (4-for-9 on 3PA). Besides some sloppiness in the 3rd, both these teams kept up the high level of offensive play--Serbia shot 52% for the game, Spain shot 48%.

Down 8 at the half, Spain came out strong at the start of the 2nd half, going on a 10-0 run. They forced Serbian TOs on four consecutive possessions in the opening few minutes of the 3rd. The 3rd had a bit of a helter-skelter feel, with each team struggling with TOs. Both teams combined for 17 TOs in the quarter (Serbia-10, Spain-7). A spate of moving-screen calls at the end of the quarter added to the total.

I would say Serbia won the transition battle today, which is kind of odd thinking how badly they got burned last year. Thought they prevented Spain from establishing an uptempo pace. A handful of Serbia's 3-point makes came in transition or delayed transition, in which the Spanish defense was out of order.

Serbia once again went deep into its bench with 10 guys getting at least 10 minutes of action. Coach Ivkovic spread the minutes around last summer and he's doing another masterful job utilizing his whole roster.

PF Novica Velickovic brought his all-around talents and was particularly impactful in the 1st & 3rd quarters. Novica dropped 10 pts in the 1st Q on three long jumpers and a runner in the lane. Came off a flare screen up top to drop a big 3-pointer to put Serbia back up 57-55 midway thru the 3rd. Novica finished a tough coast-to-coast layup in traffic in the 3rd as well. Velickovic finished with 17 pts, 5 rebs, 3 assts, 4 stls & 3-for-6 3-pointers in just 20 minutes. We are fans of Novica's all-around game and think he can carve out a niche as a reserve forward in the NBA.

Serbia got a boost from reserve SF Marko Keselj whose 17 points came mostly on spot-up 3-pointers (5-for-6). Keselj did also have one big quick pull-up off a head-fake to give Serbia a 89-84 lead.

Nemanja Bjelica has a tendency to fade into the background, but he was perfect with his scoring today (5-for-5). Bjelica was productive early, scoring 11 of his 14 pts in the 1st quarter. He also knocked home a big 3-pointer midway thru the 4th to give Serbia a 82-76 lead (Nemanja was 3-for-3 from deep).

Besides the game-winning shot, Milos Teodosic was great at distributing the ball and showed off his patented quick release to finish with 12 pts, 8 assts & 5 rebs.

For a player who was lucky to make the final roster, Dusan Savanovic (15 pts, 5 rebs (3 off))has become a vital component of the Serbian attack. Savanovic showed off his crafty in-between game all night, and shined down the stretch with 10 of his 15 pts in the 4th. Savanovic scored on a baseline spin, a nice duck-under jumper (plus foul) and toasted Garbajosa on an isolation drive with a spin move.

Nenad Krstic continues to have a strong tourney as a factor on both offense and defense. Nenad was aggressive around the rim again, drawing fouls and snatching offensive rebounds. Nenad pitched in with 13 pts, 9 rebs (5 off) and stout defense on the backline.

This was a big game so you knew Juan Carlos Navarro would generate points. Juan's 27 pts came from a steady diet of long jumpers (4-for-7 3PA) and floaters (3-4), including a fadeaway number late in the game. He banged home his jumpers curling around screens, stepping back or spotting up. Serbia would often flood La Bomba with extra defenders when he came off screens and he did a good job finding the open man (5 assts).

Rudy Fernandez's activity was positive in spots but he could not find his touch behind the arc (0-for-7 3PA). He did a nice job flying in for rebounds (5 rebs), including converting a soaring tip-in, and forced his way to the rim for some points (15 pts, 7-for-7 FTA). Similar to last summer, Rudy had a good all-around tourney, averaging 13.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg (led team), 1.6 spg, 51% shooting & 38.7% 3PA.

Can't fault Coach Scariolo for handing Jorge Garbajosa heavy minutes in this game. Garba's jumper was *on* from the start and Jorge ended the game with four 3-pointers. Garba added 6 rebs to his 18 pts, but he threw some passes away (3 TOs).

Where were the touches for Marc Gasol down low? Marc was pretty damn effective when he touched the ball--13 pts on 6-for-7 FG. Only recall two post scores for Marc, one was a sweet turnaround jumper in the 4th. Also, Marc made some nice passes and recorded a handful of blocks.

Ricky Rubio made a few creative dishes but failed to have a major impact on this game. Ricky's Worlds were a mixed bag, in which he flashed his brilliant passing skills but also showed his lack of scoring ability. It's not just his subpar shooting that needs tweaking, he needs to work on his finishing. In seven games, Rubio averaged 5 ppg, 5.7 apg, 1.9 TOpg, 3.3 rpg & 27.5% shooting (2-for-15 on 3PA) in 27 mins per game.

Spain's Worlds performance was not up to expectations. They underachieved in group play like they did last year. But this year they had less margin for error and had a tougher playoff-round draw. Won't be surprised if Scariolo is relieved of his duties. Didn't think Spain played up to its capabilities on the defensive end.

Not having Pau definitely hurt the defense, but so did the retirement of role-playing forward Carlos Jimenez two years ago. Also, some of the blame has to go on Scariolo for never getting max effort from this team on defense. They never consistently caused havoc like they did in the later stages of EuroBasket. Where was the ball-hawking defense that created easy scoring opportunities in transition that we saw last year?

Serbia now has to face Turkey in the semis on Saturday. Turkey rolled over Slovenia 95-68 in a game that was never close. Turkey has looked very impressive over the last 10 days and have fed off the home crowd. Serbia has played great and have great depth, but I just can't take them over Turkey playing at home. Should be a close game.


At 4:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I DO fault Scariolo for losing this game. The last minute strategy was pure suicide.

Also, don't know the name of that American referee who seemed like he didn't even know the FIBA rules (three consecutive faults for blocks?. come on!), but he clearly didn't want Spain going through. The Serbs were making all kinds of dirty fouls without the referees saying a thing, but one slightly strong fault from Garbo got him an unsportmanship fault? (sry, don't now the name in English). What a joke.

Serbia was lucky that Spain threw half the match, and the referees helped them win the other half. Sad.

At 5:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its a joke to see a Spaniard complain about the refs. After all the ref you're complaining about was the only one that knew the rules when you played Greece.

The other two were from Kenya and Puerto Rico. They know the rules better than the American?

You telling me we had none of that in the whole tournament or was it purely a coincidence Spain never got a technical foul called against them?

At 6:10 AM, Anonymous Doubter said...

Rubio really looked many years away from being a NBA player.
He plays as a PG, arguably the most loaded position on the league, and he looked very sub-par.

Great game, sadly spaniards are looking for all kind of excuses since their "ÑBA" cant lose. Theyre just terrible accepting defeat, and it became worst after winning some titles (basket and soccer).

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