Quarter-Finals: What have we learned so far? (Part II)
MIES (Switzerland) - This is the second part of this column looking at the first games of our Quarter-Finals series. You can read the first part here. The aim is to see if we can look at those first games and pick out one area of the game that might be the most important in the second game of each matchup.
Hapoel U-NET Holon v SIG Strasbourg
What looked like the most unpredictable series in the Quarter-Finals, suddenly looks like the most predictable. The Basketball Champions League has a funny way of doing that. Then again, it will probably completely flip again after the next game.
If you looked at the final score alone you would think this was an utterly dominant win for Hapoel U-NET Holon. And in many ways other than the score it really was. Holon shot 45.5 percent from deep, SIG shot 23.1 percent. Holon only turned the ball over seven times and had 22 assists. SIG turned the ball over 11 times and had only 14 assists.
But not all the stats point to complete dominance for the Purple and Gold. In a game with just 65 possessions, SIG managed to score 75 points at a rate of 114 points per 100 possessions. In normal circumstances that should be enough to win you a Play-Offs game. They also forced Holon to go into the last four seconds of their offensive possessions 22 times (per Synergy). In a 65 possession game, that actually leans towards good defense. However, therein possibly also lies the problem.
If we are to learn anything from this game it could be that SIG will have to be better defensively at the point of contact on screens. We already knew this Holon team is an excellent passing team and it doesn't matter how late you force them into the shot clock, if they are able to create advantages from screening actions, they will give you massive problems.
At times, however, it was way too easy for Guy Goodes' squad. The four clips below are perhaps the clearest symptoms of the problem. Joe Ragland is up there with the very best pick-and-roll playmakers in the BCL but if he is able to create scoring advantages from rejecting the screen on four different occasions, something is clearly going wrong.
No doubt, at home, with a coach like Lassi Tuovi, we can expect SIG to be much better when it comes to defending those ball screen actions and if they do, they can actually start to take some optimism from the stats of the first game.
Also, shout out to Josh Bett for "Into the Kyser-verse". It might be the best commentary line of the season so far (Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse is the best Spider-Man movie ever, don't @ me).
Lenovo Tenerife v Tofas Bursa
What looked like the most predictable series in the Quarter-Finals, suddenly looks like the most unpredictable. The Basketball Champions League has a funny way of doing that. Then again, it will probably completely flip again after the next game.
Considering the fact that Tofas never led the game and Tenerife dished out 22 assists on their way to shooting 42 percent from deep and scoring eight of their nine shots attempted at the rim, Tofas possibly came out of the game with a justified sense of optimism.
With the score 31-17 at the end of the first quarter and Sasu Salin already scoring five of his eight three-pointers, the situation looked bleak for Ahmet Caki's squad but in truth, they had been getting good looks themselves and no matter how well you prepare for Tenerife, Sasu Salin is the best shooter we have seen in the BCL and when he's really on it, you just have to try and hold on for dear life. The Finn needs just two more three-pointers to own the single-season record in the BCL and also overtake Vojtech Hruban as the all-time leader from behind the arc.
Sasu Salin knocked down six three-pointers in the first half v Tofas Bursa.— Igor Curkovic (@IgorCurkovic) April 6, 2022
Lenovo Tenerife SG needs four more to tie both the single game record (10 by Jimmy Baron in 2017, Steven Gray in 2020) and the single season record (57 by Gabe York in 2017-18).#BasketballCL
Maybe the clip that could best tell the "other" story of that first quarter and also maybe hint towards the direction the rest of the game would take was the way that Tofas defended what we are coming to know as "Tenerife Action" (if you aren't sure what that is, click here for a great explanation from former BCL coach Luka Bassin).
In the video below, watch how well Tofas had prepared for this action. #9, Pako Cruz starts out guarding Salin and pushes him into #3, Tyler Ennis. Ennis switches and "Top-Locks" Salin to stop him from getting open on the wing. They then did a great job defending the pick-and-roll with Cruz deflecting the pass to the roller.
The ball somehow bobbled back to Huertas and found its way to Doornekamp. The Canadian missed the shot but despite Tofas again doing well to cover the paint, the long rebound went straight back to Tenerife.
The entire first half was like that for Tofas. They created good looks and missed. Their opponents meanwhile, were absolutely on fire. However, Tenerife only actually won one quarter in the game and the Tofas comeback absolutely taught us that this series will be anything but straightforward.
We also know that this might be the best team Txus Vidorreta has had at Tenerife since the title-winning squad in the inaugural season. The question is which game we get back in Turkey. Will it be more like the first quarter, or more like the other three?