BCL Film Room - Pedro's Ghosts
MADRID (Spain) - If you are a regular for the BCL Trash Talk Podcast, you may have read the title of this column and already guessed what you are about to read. Every week on the show we look at some of the best X's and O's from the tactics boards of our coaches and as you would probably expect, BAXI Manresa's Pedro Martinez has featured more than once.
Very few coaches are as consistent at calling a play in a timeout and it really is a privilege to watch this Manresa team execute Martinez's ideas on the court. One concept, in particular, is something that they have been haunting teams with when coming out of timeouts: "Ghost Screens" and we have been lucky enough to have had the microphone on them for a timeout twice this season whilst Martinez was calling the play. When coaches describe a screen as a ghost, what they are essentially looking for is their screener to run towards the ball-handler and motion as if to set the screen, then slip, or ghost out quickly before actually setting the screen. The aim is the try and catch the screener and the ball-handler's defender just as they are changing their body position to defend the screen. When executed properly, one of them (often both) will be out of position and it leaves a driving lane open to the rim or the screener wide open for three on the perimeter.
If we look first at the most recent example from the completely dominant, 108 point performance against Nutribullet Treviso, with twelve seconds left in the first half and a 20-point lead, Manresa were looking to press home their advantage even further. Pedro Martinez called timeout and looked to execute a play on the last possession. If we listen in to the timeout, Martinez is speaking in a mix of Spanish and English but you can still clearly hear him saying "Ghost Screen" and you probably don't need google translate to understand that "Vamos a ir muy rapido" means we are going to go very fast... And even if you didn't fully catch it, you almost certainly could have guessed from watching the speed that #6, Dani Garcia, took off with the ball after the inbound. We can also hear Pedro Martinez call the play "L Side" and tell Chima Moneke (in English) to set the screen for Juan (#22 Juampi Vaulet). What this translates into is a "Zipper" screen by Moneke for Vaulet to get open and catch the ball then attack the paint after the ghost screen by #12, Marcis Steinbergs. Steinbergs' screen is possibly even more than a ghost, as the speed they execute and the timing of play made it look more like a clear out. Either way, the play worked to perfection, and exactly as Martinez had told Vaulet to attack the paint, was exactly how it worked out as he got straight to the rim for a layup.
Now, as we mentioned before, this wasn't the first time we had covered this action from a timeout by Manresa. Earlier in the season, we had seen the play against Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem. On this occasion, Martinez had employed #32, Joe Thomasson, as the screener and instructed #1 Sylvain Francisco to "Attack one on one". It's also worth noting that he was very specific about placing #19, Elias Valtonen, in the left-side corner where the help would come from on the drive and eventually leave him open for the three-ball! Again, Manresa executed the play with precision after the timeout and got exactly what they wanted.
Some may have wondered if BAXI Manresa were going to struggle to keep the momentum after the international break but those concerns have already been firmly put to bed. This team is still one of the big stories of European basketball this season and they now look even more set for a run to the BCL Final 4 and beyond. They are not only great entertainment but also great value for watching and studying the way they play. And now you know, the next time you see Pedro Martinez call a timeout, if you watch (and listen) closely you might just see a ghost.