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2013 FIBA Americas: The flaw in Canada’s PNR Defense

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With the FIBA Americas tournament underway in Venezuela and with four spots available for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, we’ll look at some offensive and defensive strategies from this tournament. Follow along on ESPN3.

Canada struggled in the second half of their second game in the FIBA Americas tournament, eventually falling to Puerto Rico by sixteen points. Puerto Rico was aided by shooting 38% on three point shots (10-26) which helped them to the big win, which could prove crucial in a tie breaker scenario.

Puerto Rico exposed a flaw in Canada’s pick and roll defense, which led to several of the three point attempts by Puerto Rico. Canada will need to adjust this defense from their big man in the upcoming games if they want to compete for a World Cup bid.

Canada uses the ‘ICE’ strategy to defend pick and rolls, which has their big man sag off the screen and attempt to string out the ball handler while not allowing them to turn the corner off the screen. Canada’s big men struggle at times with this concept, playing too far back, which allows the ball handler to break the defense down.

The beginning of the first clip below shows Andrew Nicholson executing solid ICE defense as he strings the play out and doesn’t let the ball handler dribble below the three point line. The play continues and Canada gets into a pick and roll set from the opposite side of the court. Levon Kendall is guarding the screener but is a few steps below where he should be which allows the ball handler to pull up for a three point attempt.


This is a tough shot for Puerto Rico but it is an open three point shot, made possible by the poor defense of Kendall. He needs to step out further to slow down the ball handler while still being able to recover to the roll man.

Canada also has trouble with slowing dribble penetration, as they let the guard get below the three point line instead of slowing them down and stringing the play out horizontally.


By allowing the dribble penetration off the pick and roll, Canada leaves themselves exposed to layups and kick outs for three point shots. Puerto Rico took advantage of the latter throughout the second half by drawing in the help defense and finding shooters beyond the arc.

Canada is going to need their bigs to improve their pick and roll defense quickly in order to qualify for the next stage of the tournament. They can continue to use the ‘ICE’ strategy but need to work on forcing the ball handler to move horizontally instead of allowing them to drive toward the basket, creating numerous options for the offense. This will leave them exposed to open jump shots by the ball handler but this is preferred to what could happen if the ball handler is allowed to drive into the lane.

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Written by Joshua Riddell

September 1, 2013 at 2:47 am

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