08 October, 2019
04 October, 2020
Laurent Vila (PAU)
Diccon Lloyd-Smeath's Champions League Insider
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Tactics Board - Tip-Offs and Timeouts

MADRID (Spain) - This week Txus Vidorreta became the winningest coach in the Basketball Champions League. After collecting his 34th W from 44 games, he overtook Zvezdan Mitrovic (33) and also boosted his win percentage to a frankly bonkers, 77%. 

A win percentage of 77% is hard to argue with (if you even wanted to) but in truth, it's hard to objectively quantify how much impact a coach has on winning. Recruitment, club environment, team culture and a whole myriad of other factors have a direct impact on winning and can all be attributed to - in different ways - everyone at the club, from general managers, players, and coaches, to fans, team managers, and even families - especially families. 

One way that we can objectively give coaches credit, is perhaps a coach's most potent tool for altering the game, the timeout. So, in honor of King Txus climbing to the top of our wins column, I have put together a few of my favorite scribbles off the tactics board from across the league. 

Rasta Vechta - Message Received

The BCL is still a young league and is also quickly becoming the best platform for young coaches to build a profile in Europe. Last year Igor Milicic burst onto the scene with a different brand of basketball in Wloclawek, and Roel  Moors won Coach of the Year with Antwerp. Pedro Calles of Rasta Vechta was no secret to German Basketball fans after guiding the newly promoted Rasta men to a 4th place finish last season, and winning Coach of the Year in the BBL as a result. If anyone in Europe was still in the dark about his ability as a play-caller, his team made sure they were enlightened with the very first play of the season.

I could go into the details of explaining why the play was so well designed and why it worked, but there is actually no need. The best thing about a play like this is that it reaches every type of basketball consumer, and for very obvious reasons. One thing I will point out is that it sets the theme for this column. Tipoff plays are a great way for coaches to not only make an impression on fans but also their opposite numbers.  The way a team starts the game can be used as a signal of intent.


Rasta Vechta - Jump It Up!

Another one from Pedro Calles to start Gameday 2 this time and this one seems to have set a trend. The clip above was a tip-off play, this next one is a jump ball play, as noticed and explained by one of our own BCL coaches, Hapoel Jerusalem Assistant Coach, Liam Flynn. For those of you less au fait with coaching lingo, a "Rip" screen can be almost any back screen where the screener has his back to the baseline. Using said rip screen from the tip-off is a simple idea but a devious one, as the big man is almost certainly out of position after jumping and the defense usually isn't fully set.


Iberostar Tenerife - Jump On It!

Not to be outdone by the antics of his countryman in Northern Germany, Txus Vidorreta drew up almost exactly the same play for Iberostar Tenerife against Peristeri Winmasters on the very next Gameday. Only this time, the rip screen was slightly higher up the court and the outcome was a lob for Darion Atkins. Nice. 



Iberostar Tenerife - The Executioners

This time a true "After Timeout" (ATO) play. The chemistry and understanding from the Aurinegro are way above what you'd expect from a team with a completely brand new roster (all 12 changed from last season), on Gameday 3.

Bear in mind that this was out of Peristeri's timeout, so Tenerife had just worked on defense to shut down the Greek team's play, then executed their own on the other end. What you see is "Spain" pick-and-roll used as an entry, then Huertas and Salin cross each other to enable the Fin to come and make a play on the same side. Pay special attention to the cut Konate makes (highlighted) to punish the defensive rotations and prevent his man from being able to defend two players at once. 


Peristeri Winmasters - Elevate Your Game

Ilias Zouros is another incredible addition to the coaching talent pool in the BCL this season and despite being on the wrong end of the two plays above, Peristeri have established themselves as the most dangerous team coming out of a timeout this season. They score 1.2 points per possession off the tactics board. As you'd expect from an Ilias Zouros team, they always seem to have a trick up their sleeves. 

Yes, the play below is from my own twitter feed, so it's a bit of an "I scratch my back, then I scratch my own back again" type situation. But really, it's just to save on word count and explaining twice. The actual play itself is maybe the most unusual and creative thing we have seen this season. Very rarely do you see all four off-ball players start a possession in the same quarter of the court. "Elevator" screens are generally very easy to sniff out for defenses, the misdirection of the second cutter is what you need to pay special attention to here.

There you have it, five of the best tip-off and timeout plays of the season so far. Now you know why the fans in Vechta are always in their seats early. Also worth watching for the first play, are the young guns in Teksut Bandirma and coach Hakan Demir.

If you like to study the different ways coaches approach communicating in timeouts then Gianmarco Pozzecco is must-watch TV in Sassari. And, finally, check out this full-court press-break from Thomas Päch's Telekom Baskets Bonn, as explained (as only he can) by our very own Igor Curkovic.


The Basketball Champions League's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA or the Basketball Champions League.

The Basketball Champions League takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

Diccon Lloyd-Smeath

Diccon Lloyd-Smeath

Diccon is a basketball coach and analyst living in Madrid. Constantly digging in the crates of box scores and clicking through hours of game footage. Diccon is on the hunt for the stories within the stories. If you like to get a closer look at what’s going in the Basketball Champions League, you have found it.