04 October, 2022
14 May, 2023
Panagiotis Vasilopoulos (PERI), Vasilis Spanoulis (PERI)
Diccon Lloyd-Smeath's Champions League Insider
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Games within games - JDA Bourgogne Dijon v Peristeri Bwin

 MIES (Switzerland) - The Play-In series between JDA Dijon and Peristeri in the Basketball Champions League is heating up. After Peristeri took the second game to level it up, now we have a battle in the Bourgogne next Wednesday to see who can win out and make it to the Round of 16. Can the first two games tell us anything about how the key matchups and tactical tweaks might shake out in the decider?

In reality, both teams have more questions than answers going into the third game. When both teams have scored 80 or more in each game, it's pretty clear that offenses are dominating and the coaching staffs are still scrambling to find a way to shut down each other's key weapons.

Tale of The Tape

In any game against Dijon priority number one is David Holston. When Dijon have another matchup alongside him that they are able to get advantages from, they are a very difficult team to stop. In the first game that matchup was Markis McDuffie. The former Wichita state swing forward causes similar headaches to a player like Amath Mbaye has done over the years. His ability to shoot at 6'8" (2.03) but also put the ball on the floor and play 1v1 makes him a real challenge to find the right matchup defensively. 

Almost from the opening tip, Nenad Markovic wanted to get McDuffie into pick-and-pop actions with Holston. This is very tough to cover because Holston is such a master at creating for himself or others in the ball screen that you are forced to hedge or at least show a little when McDuffie sets the screen. As soon as the defender separates from McDuffie's body he is looking to get enough space to shoot (clip 1 below). If the defender can recover in time, he is attacking that closeout and going 1v1 (clip 2 below). That second clip in the video below was actually when Peristeri needed it the most as Peristeri had built an eight-point lead.


In the final quarter, McDuffie was doing even more damage. He had 10 points in the fourth and the iso on the right wing in the clip below was probably the one that iced the game.


Game 2 did see Peristeri hold McDuffie to just one point in the second quarter and completely scoreless in the fourth but he still scored 20 in the game. In the clip below we see Dijon running the same action again to get McDuffie in a pick-and-pop. This time his defender is into his body and pushing him away from being able to set the screen. It Worked and Dijon were forced into the next option. The ball eventually finds McDuffie on the weakside but when his shot missed we see another problem for Peristeri, Gregor Hrovat. On this occasion he's crashing the glass but he's been making plays and hitting open shots all series - exactly what you need him to do when all the attention is on Holston and McDuffie.


A look at the box score can tell you that Dijon had a lot of trouble stopping Marcus Denmon in the first leg of the series and Sylvain Francisco in the second.

 However, the biggest matchup headache for Nenad Markovic and Dijon across both games was undoubtedly Miro Bilan. In fact, size in general has been a problem with Dimitris Agravanis also causing huge problems. Between them, they have shot 28 free throws, with 18 of those being in the second game when Peristeri came back from a 13-point deficit early in the second quarter. The great thing for Peristeri is that when Bilan puts that much pressure on the defense it can be infectious. In the second half of that comeback game, Denmon scored 14 of his 16 points, with eight of them coming from the charity stripe. 

Part of the problem for Dijon is that they can't match up 1v1 against Bilan in the post but they haven't been able to work out where to send double teams from. In the clip below Peristeri used a ball screen from Bilan not with the intent to score from it but in order to get Bilan deep post position - this was clearly by design as Dijon's coverage required #10 Jacques Alingue to hedge then recover. Also interesting is that they have Agravanis feeding the post. Agravanis' defender McDuffie then attempts to trap down on the post from the strong side, leaving Agravanis the space to cut and Bilan with the height to see over the trap and pick the pass. 


Coach Spanoulis and Peristeri leveraged the size of Bilan and the same Dijon pick-and-roll coverage in the video below. This time Francisco fed the post and then spaced higher up and away from the wing, into the slot position to make it a further distance for the trap to come. In truth, the set was that well designed that it was David Holston in the position to trap and even if he had got there in time, at 7 foot (2.13m) Bilan was still at a heavy advantage.


The Final Showdown

Welcome to the stresses of life as a head coach for Vasilis Spanoulis. When it comes to preparing for a game it doesn't get much tougher than finding a way to beat the same team twice in eight days but that is exactly what Peristeri need to do. Can they find a way to slow down David Holston or stop Markis McDuffie from getting to his spots? And even if they do, can they also find a way to deal with Gregor Hrovat's underrated contribution? 

For Nenad Markovic and Dijon, this is much more familiar territory but experience doesn't help you much when faced with a giant in the paint and the likes of Marcus Denmon with the green light and Sylvain Francisco making impossible shots look easy. 

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.