2013 EuroBasket: Slovenia’s End of Game Defense Secures the Win
With the FIBA EuroBasket tournament underway in Slovenia and with six 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.
Slovenia squeaked out a two point win over the Czech Republic in their first EuroBasket game which was punctuated with a big defensive possession up one with 40 seconds left. Their team defense was well organized and forced the Czech Republic into a tough shot which when missed, allowed Slovenia to finish the win.
The offensive set opened with a ball screen at the top of the key. The crucial point to notice in this first frame, and throughout the play, is the off ball positioning of the help defense. Slovenia plays the pick and roll by ‘Icing’ the action, having the screener’s defender sag off the action to take away dribble penetration.
At this point in the play, the ball handler has realized he has no angle and no pass to the roll man. The roll man’s defender has cut off the dribble penetration, allowed his teammate to recover to the ball and stayed close enough to the action to recover to the roll man. These two players have adequately covered the set which has allowed the closest help defender, the player guarding the strong side corner, to stay close to his man to take away the kick out pass to the corner.
The Czech Republic reset the play and try a ball screen again with the same two players. They still can’t crack the defense, as the Slovenia defense is positioned perfectly to defend the action yet again. The big man has recovered to ICE the ball screen yet again. He is on balance and in the perfect position to defend this screen. He is not too close to not allow penetration past him and not too far back to give up an easy jump shot.
As the ball handler take a dribble inside the three point line, the closest help defender, the Slovenian player guarding the strong side corner, does not help too far off. The main help begins to come from the weakside wing, as that player sags down to help on the roll man.
The kick out pass ultimately goes to this offensive player but the pass is so long that the defender has plenty of time to recover and defend a possible shot or drive. If the corner defender helped on the drive, it would be an easy pass to the corner for the three point shot. However, by bringing the defender from the weak side, it is easier for that player to recover as he has time to sprint to his man while the ball is in the air.
After receiving the kick out pass and not having an open jump shot due to the strong close out, this Czech Republic player attempts to drive the lane but again is met by a wall of defenders. Slovenia was great this possession at facing the ball the entire possession and not having any of their defenders get turned around, causing a break in the defense. Through the two pick and rolls and then the drive, their defenders have seen all the action, which has created a defense that has been difficult to break through as the shot clock winds down.
With the shot clock below 10, Tomas Satoransky posts up to try to get a decent shot. However, he received the pass in the corner after the failed drive and starts his post far from the basket. Now all the Slovenia defenders are within the paint and Satoransky has no space to even try a post move once he backs his defender closer to the block.
Again, all five defenders are facing the ball and in great position. There is no space for the player with the ball to create and no room for any off ball action to be a threat.
With the Czech Republic offense unable to penetrate the defense, the possession ends with a difficult turnaround shot that predictably clangs off the rim and into the arms of a Slovenian defender, allowing the Slovenian team to seal the win.
Nothing the offense did was really poor, as they ran through several options to try to stretch out the defense and find an opening. What could have helped was a more creative guard that could have done more out of the pick and roll but with the way the defense was organized, a made basket still would have been in doubt.
The defense on this play was on point by Slovenia. All five defenders worked together to defend the pick and roll, rotate to force a tough pass and cut off dribble penetration. It was ended by a strong individual output as the post defender played tough to not get backed down and force an off balance mid range jump shot.