Monday, September 05, 2011

FIBA Analysis (9/5): Greece-Croatia, Russia-Slovenia


Greece held off a Croatian rally after being up 20 points in the 1st half and effectively bounced Croatia from EuroBasket. Croatia methodically chipped away at the lead during the 2nd half and got within three points with just over a minute left.

Greek PF Antonis Fotsis (17 pts) had his jumper working today to the tune of five made 3PT. Fotsis hit threes in transition and spotting up in the halfcourt. And none bigger than a 3-pointer at the top of the key coming off a down screen to push the lead to 69-63 with 1:00 left. Fotsis' help defense was on point once again.

Greece made a concerted effort to pound the ball into Giannis Bourousis in the post with mixed results. He only shot 3-for-10 but did draw some fouls down low and finished with 10 points. He definitely took advantage of the weaker Ante Tomic a few times. Thought Bourousis was more spry on the defensive end then he's been in the past.

Nick Calathes (Mavs own rights) had a nice floor game with 9 pts, 8 rebs, 4 assts & 4 stls. Thought he controlled the tempo well on the offensive end and rarely forced action. Made two great passes late in the game: nice feed to a rolling Kostas Koufos for an alley-oop lay-in, and a lob over the zone to a baseline-cutting Mike Bramos that gave Greece a 66-58 lead with 2:45 remaining.

Greece knew they wouldn't generate points as easily without Vassilis Spanoulis and Sofo Schortsanitis around. So they made a concerted effort to get back to their old grind-it-out, defense-first ways. They are currently holding opponents to 64.8 ppg (3rd best) on 37% shooting (1st).

Those are former Coach Giannakis-era numbers. Keeping the scores in the low-70s/mid-60s. Though this year's team doesn't generate quite the number of turnovers that those mid-2000s Hellas teams did.

But this year's team does rebound better than those former teams. The Greeks lead EuroBasket in rebounding at 40 rpg and are currently outrebounding their opponents by a +7.8 rpg margin.

Stanko Barac (Pacers own rights) came off the bench to give Croatia a huge lift, especially in the 2nd half. Croatia established Stanko on the blocks often where he made a few buckets, but it was his trusty mid-range jumper that helped Croatia rally. Barac buried three 17-footers plus a huge 3pt. make that cut Greece's lead to five with 2:00 left. Stanko also added two nice blocks.

Ante Tomic (Jazz own rights) was once again efficient in his time on the floor--10 pts on 4-of-4 and 5 rebs in 22 minutes. But he was limited by four fouls and could not hold his ground vs. Bourousis. Tomic was one of the top players in the opening round, averaging 16.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.2 in 25 mins/game. Ante led the opening round in FG pct. at 74%. We examined Tomic & his NBA prospects on Saturday.

NJ Net draftee Bojan Bogdanovic had a quiet night (4 pts on 2-of-7) when his team needed more from him. Bojan missed two crucial 3PA late in the game and scored both of his buckets in transition.

Bojan's Euro '11 was an uneven affair where he started off the tourney dropping 27 on Finland but then scored a total of only 26 points in the last three games. Bojan's numbers were pretty good overall--13 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2 spg, 48% FG pct, 41% 3PA. But his 3pt. numbers are a little skewed as he hit 9-of-12 3PA in the first two games and 0-of-10 over the last three games.

Did not see enough post-up or iso calls for Bojan. Bojan is very effective going one-on-one backing in his defender or taking him off the dribble going both ways. Seems like Croatia forgot about Bojan sometimes.

Marko Popovic did his best poor man's Juan Navarro imitation by tossing up multiple runners and a few pull-up jumpers for 14 pts.

There's always an underachieving team or two in every tourney, and Croatia wins the crown this year. Had three top-level Euro scorers at their disposal with Bogdanovic, Popovic and Tomic. The injury to Marko Tomas did not help but there was still plenty of talent to have grabbed a top-three spot in Group C.


In the de facto Group D championship game, Sergey Monya hit a pull-up 18-footer with :02 on the clock to give Russia the win.

Both teams were clanking shots all game. Very little consistency to either team's offense besides the start of the game for Slovenia, who started off the game looking sharp for the first five minutes. Then the Russian defense tightened up and made the Slovenian offense look ragged the rest of the game.

Slovenia was held to 37.5% shooting and forced into 15 TOs. The only thing Russia did not do well on the defensive end was protect the backboard--15 off. rebounds for Slovenia.

Russia strung out the pick-n-roll, rarely letting any of the speedy Slovenian guards get deep penetration. Weakside help was always in the right place. When the ball got around the block area, a second man collapsed onto the ball-handler. When there were attempts around the rim, multiple sets of arms were challenging the shot. When a defender went to help, another defender rotated to fill the area that was vacated by the initial help defender. This is typical Russian defense.

The Russian defense leads the field in points allowed, 64.8 ppg, and are third in defensive FG pct, 41%. This is nothing new for a David Blatt-led Russian team. What's a little surprising is Russia is allowing roughly 49% on 2PA. They usually hold their opponents in the low 40s. Though, as usual, they are shutting down the 3pt. line (27%).

No one on Russia was particularly effective on the offensive end besides Andrey Vorontsevich, who netted 18 pts mostly coming on cuts or put-backs.

Goran Dragic did not have much impact in this game as Russia neutralized his speed. Erazem Lorbek was the best Slovenian player of the day but did most of his scoring in the 1st half.

Lorbek's deadly post game was on display with a couple of turnarounds plus an absolutely sick move where he looked like he would finish with a sweet up-n-under move, then reversed field on his pivot foot into a hook. He's as skilled as any big in the world--his footwork is unparalleled. Erazem also floated out to bang down two 3pt. makes.

Both these teams have not really played up to their capabilities in Group D play, but were lucky the competition was so subpar. They are still the two best teams in the second round Group F and should be expected to get quarterfinal bids.