Tactics Board: Buzzer Beaters and the (other) Top 5 Plays of the Season
LONDON (England) - And just like that, quicker than Zion Williamson blowing by an NBA center, the BCL Regular Season is done. It feels like two blinks ago we were watching Nizhny Novgorod and Kendrick Perry setting the tone for the season, with a double-overtime battle against Avellino and Norris Cole. Then, the night after, Pako Cruz continued the theme with one of the plays of the season to beat Bamberg on the buzzer. Since then we have had no less than 17 overtime games, which is a higher number and percentage of games than either of our two previous seasons. We have also had 4 double OT games, which again, is a higher number and percentage of games than either of our two previous seasons. Even the games that haven't gone to OT have been closer - 6.7% of our games have been decided by just1 Point, which is... you guessed it higher than either of our previous two seasons...
Then there has been the Buzzer Beaters. I count six buzzer shots that have won games or sent them to OT. (also including shots with 1 second of less on the clock)
I was going to try and rate these shots in order. I got as far as Pako Cruz being #1 and Chase Fieler at #2 as they were game winners. After that, it's not so easy. So I figured let's just play them in chronological order and leave it with you. Plus, a couple of these made it into the top 5 plays of the season anyway, so had already been rated.
Speaking of Top 5 plays.......
The Other Top 5 Plays of the Season
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy that top 5 as much as anyone. Some of those plays are individually outrageous. They are, however, almost exclusively acts of individual brilliance and less about team brilliance. Even in the case of the six buzzer beaters, the majority are individual plays. The exceptions being Oostende running a perfect inbound play to find Chase Fieler and SIG Strasbourg executing a game-tieing 3-Pointer for Quentin Serron. Those are the types of plays that this "other" Top 5 is all about. Great individual plays can win games but team execution builds trust and is the bedrock that every winning team is built on. So, in reverse order, here are my Top 5 Set Plays of the Regular Season.
5. Anwil Włocławek v Sidigas Avellino
Anwil and Coach Miličić caught the eye of neutrals all season. They play a distinct brand of basketball and execute team basketball on both ends of the floor. To start the season, Anwil really caught teams off-guard. This play was the perfect example. Needing to score, down 2 with 6.4 seconds on the clock, Coach Miličić changed his lineup to encourage Avellino to switch the cross-screen (telling his team in the timeout to expect the switch). Yes, the Italians miscommunicated and botched the screen, but even still, Anwil had anticipated their coverage and Filloy would have been on the high-side of a bigger player even if they had got the switch right. The pass was perfect and we got another overtime adventure early in the season.
4. SIG Strasbourg v Filou Oostende
Sorry, Oostende fans, you may want to look away here. There is just so much going on in this play, technically, tactically and emotionally. You can see the mixed emotion on Quentin Serron's face after making the shot as he refuses to celebrate, like a football player scoring a goal against an old club. The play itself was genius in its simplicity. On a late-game pick-and-roll, the defense has a choice to switch or hedge and recover to the roller. If you choose the latter of the two, one of your perimeter defenders has to tag the roller until his man can recover. The genius of this play is the cut that Serron made before the pick-and-roll. As he cut into the lane and his man followed, it dictated that his man would tag the roller - It's also unlikely that Oostende would have left Nicholas Lang on the single side but the cut removed the decision. All that was left was for Jarrell Eddie to lift and bring his man with him and there was nobody to rotate over to Serron wide open in the corner.
3. Telenet Giants Antwerp v JDA Dijon
Staying in Belgium, this time with Antwerp. Credit to Igor Curkovic for spotting this one:
Another @BasketballCL week, another gem with Roel Moors' handwriting all over it: @antwerpgiants set up a brilliant play after a timeout, Ismael Bako on the receiving end of an alley-oop pic.twitter.com/hydg4xlEXH— Igor Curkovic (@IgorCurkovic) January 29, 2019
This isn't the only lob play that was executed after a timeout this season. The context and creativity are what made this play standout. Antwerp was in the middle of one of those quarters where they are just blazing and executing everything. Bako had already thrown it down thrice and was cooking on gas. So how did they get him open again? Coach Roel Moors read that Dijon was going stay as tight to Paris Lee as possible and used him as a screener instead of a playmaker. Watch how David Holston is "top locking" Paris Lee and the Antwerp PG uses his own man as the screener. Also, watch Paris Lee point out his coach to credit him for the set. If you want a clear sign of trust between players and their coach, there you have it. There is a reason that Roel Moors is one of the favorites to take our Coach of the Year Award......
2. Filou Oostende v Petrol Olimpija
Oostende fans, you can come back in now. You can also take a huge amount of pride in the way your team played this season. Execution in the clutch is certainly one of the things that both Oostende fans and Coach Dario Gjergja can take heart from. The way they cleared the floor for Chase Fieler to win the game was expert in this play. And the discovery of Fieler as a versatile forward with the ability to turn killer in close games, adds another name to the list of players that have been given a start by the Belgian champs. Same time, same place next season Oostende. Only next season, the smart money is on you guys to advance!
1. UCAM Murcia v Nizhny Novgorod
Here it is then, Play of the Season, from one of the games of the season. Nizhny Novgorod's second double OT of the season and UCAM Murcia's second double OT of that week. We went through the details of what lead to this play and what made it so special in an earlier Tactics Board column. You can go and check the analysis if you need reminding but really it was an elevator play, drawn up out of a timeout when UCAM needed a 3 to send it to overtime. That's all you need to know
Up next, the Play-Offs and then the Final Four. The way this season is going, we will probably have enough overtime thrillers, buzzer beaters and after timeout, killers to write this column piece all over again.
Is it March yet?
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