The original plan for this article was to be a “SuperCopa Endesa” review and to be published a couple of days ago. However, commitments outside of basketball prevented us from posting it earlier than the Barcelona – Baskonia game for the 1st round of ACB and combining our notes from that game too we ended up having something that looks more like a report on how these six Spanish teams (Valencia, Gran Canaria, Real, Malaga, Barcelona and Baskonia) used their big men; at least in their first duels of the season.
SuperCopa Winners Valencia
First of all, since we are talking about the teams’ big men, it is worth mentioning this:
Valencia Basket to hit the market to replace the injured Latavious Williams https://t.co/cCPGjIAXEh
— Sportando (@Sportando) October 3, 2017
It was “Pleiß, Pleiß & Pleiß” early on in the semi-final for Txus Vidorreta’s side, until Dubljevic subbed in for him, and screen after screen after – at the top of the key, most of the times, and with the purpose of Tibor rolling to the basket and getting fed from his team-mates. Once Dubljevic subbed in for him, the only thing that changed was the variety with which Valencia executed their plays after the screen: Dubljevic could roll, he could pop and shoot or the guard that got the screen could penetrate and go all the way to the basket or split it out. What stood one in the first minutes of the game from Valencia was their passing game that led to numerous open shots and one such example is the following:
SuperCopa Second-Placed Malaga
Malaga looked unable to follow Valencia for the biggest part of the game and if they got close it was mainly because Erick Green cooled off for some weird reason in the second half – until he decided that he wasn’t going to let his side lose this semifinal.
Now, by “unable to follow” I mean both offensively and defensively. And while Valencia ran the floor incredibly well, especially in the first quarter, giving Malaga some excuses for its defensive performance, the same cannot apply to its offense. It seemed like sometimes there was no attempt to execute some kind of plan as an organized unit and that the individual parts of the unit were not at their best shape. The video below is quite demonstrative of both these elements as you can see the hesitation with which the offense is “set up” with not very confident screens or a clear goal as well as an individual (Shermandini, in this occasion) just dropping the ball from his own hands:
SuperCopa Hosts Gran Canaria
Against a quite hesitating and rusty Real Madrid, led by the incredible Albert Oliver and boosted by the home crowd, Gran Canaria shocked their opponents early in the game and managed to keep the lead for the biggest part of it, mainly thanks to the energy levels they demonstrated – producing highlights like those:
Gran Canaria’s lead was also maintained because Real Madrid simply couldn’t hit 3-pointers. When that happened and things looked like they might change, it was a big man’s time: Luke Fischer.
And so it was Gran Canaria vs Valencia in the SuperCopa Endesa final. I could basically just copy-paste the first couple of lines from the previous paragraph about Valencia to show how they started the game, again: With screen after screen after screen at the top. Both Pleiß and Dubljevic set screens for their team-mates and Gran Canaria was caught off-guard a couple of times:
However, they were the better side – generally. Valencia managed to keep within a “doable” points-difference greatly thanks to San Emeterio while Gran Canaria was screaming that it needs someone to lead them if they are to win this game. Pasecniks was a solid presence on Saturday and could have been one to carry his team, even a little bit, but looked completely out of sharpness on Sunday. The video below shows three plays from the end of the game that demonstrate this lack of a “go-to” guy and then some more: First, Gran Canaria’s defense is plain absent, then Erick Green takes the helm from San Emeterio and scores a big shot and finally Gran Canaria fail to convert (notice how Pasecniks misses the dunk).
Barcelona – Baskonia
Leaving the SuperCopa and moving to ACB, the first round had a very interesting (and exciting) Barcelona – Baskonia matchup. From Sito Alonso facing his previous team, led this season by Pablo Prigioni, to a facelifted Barcelona against an injury-hit Baskonia, the reasons to watch this game were numerous. One of them, Kevin Seraphin, didn’t do particularly well and was a major reason for Baskonia showing like the better side. A couple of reasons (looking lost in space on offense and not always knowing how to act on defense) are demonstrated in the video below:
Of course, Seraphin wasn’t the only reason that Barcelona was behind, as Alonso’s players committed a lot of unforced turnovers and if it wasn’t for their free throws they would have been trailing by a far bigger difference. However, Prigioni’s players were not perfect either as they forced themselves to many many bad decisions early in the 4th quarter, allowing Barcelona to make a comeback. Delfino, at his debut with Baskonia, was a major player in those bad decisions, to the point of giving away a technical foul which was instrumental for that comeback by Barca. And much like Gran Canaria, Baskonia made defensive mistakes as a team too:
Having observed big men, individual performances and behaviours of teams as wholes, it’s no understatement to say that the Spanish sides will be a joy to watch in European competitions once again. Valencia is, in my books, the most interesting project of all – maybe because I was very impressed by Txus Vidoretta’s Tenerife last season (and because I believe Erick Green can be a top-scorer in EuroLeague), Barcelona has so many new faces and failed so miserably last season that you simply can’t ignore them, Baskonia is always a joy to watch and follow, Real Madrid might be in trouble with the lack of a top-EuroLeague-caliber player to run the point but is Doncic’ team, Malaga certainly needs some more time to “glue” as a team but are an interestingly-constructed unit, Gran Canaria is also full of interesting players in the faces of Oliver, Pasecniks and co., Andorra La Vella could be watched even if only for Blazic, Moussa and Karnowski, Bilbao is the team of never-aging 38 years old Alex Mumbru, Estudiantes features Landesberg and Caner-Medley, UCAM Murcia has Faverani and Oleson and Tenerife will try to see what they can do with Nenad Markovic, Mike Tobey and Rosco Allen this season.
Yes, the conclusion was totally off-topic – a “watch Spanish teams” kind of promo. Spanish basketball is beautiful, man: