17 October, 2023
05 May, 2024
Diccon Lloyd-Smeath's Champions League Insider
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Tactics Board: Telekom Baskets Bonn flying under the radar

MIES (Switzerland) - How can a story about the Basketball Champions League defending champions, coached by a former Coach of the Year award winner, revolve around the premise that they are flying under the radar? We are not quite sure, but we do know it's true.

The chart above shows Net Rating since the Round of 16 began. The Bonn team of coach Roel Moors sit fourth, registering a very impressive +12 points per 100 possessions since January 22. The teams above them are exactly the names you would expect to see at the top. .

Bonn also rank fourth for the season with a +10 Net Rating, so even if they have turned it up a notch in the new calendar year, they have been consistently good since October. Yet, and despite being the reigning champions, Bonn maybe haven't caught the spotlight as brightly for the way they have been playing

In the latest edition of the Power Rankings, Igor Curkovic had Moors' team in fifth spot but also mentioned that a win against JDA Dijon in Round of 16 Week 3 action would not only extend their unbeaten start to the Round of 16 but also take their win streak in all competitions to five, equalling their best run of the season.

As you know by now, Bonn indeed went on to win on the road at Dijon and they are undoubtedly in their best form of the season so far.

Offensively, there are two areas where Bonn have been amongst the very best teams in the BCL this season: The first is in the post, the second is coming out of timeouts.

They score over 1 point per possession (PPP) every time they throw it into the block - only Dijon can better that, at 1.2 PPP. 

It's the coming out of timeouts part we want to shine that extra light on.

Bonn scored on the opening possession in seven of their nine games so far this season, winning the tip-off on six of those occasions. Scoring out of a break in play always speaks to a team in tune with each other; scoring from the opening play of the game so consistently speaks to an extra attention to detail when it comes to preparation.

In our first clip, from the game against Dijon, we see #2, Sam Griesel making an Iverson cut across the free-throw line.

In this option of the play, the purpose of the cut is not to receive a pass, but to move the defense, specifically #43 Christian Sengfelder's man, as he sets the screen for Griesel.

This opens up Sengfelder to screen on the ball, and now the whole Dijon defense is slightly behind the play.

The one thing that stands out above all in the execution of this set is the poise that this roster has when transferring the advantage with ball movement from player to player as the defense scrambles to catch up.

Next up, we go back to Bonn's win at home over Galatasaray EKMAS: Here there is an even better example of what it has looked like watching Bonn Ball this season.

We see the same concept of using a cut to move the defense and open up a player to set a screen but, this time, #22 Noah Kirkwood curls over the top of #54 Thomas Kennedy.

Kennedy pops and then flows straight into a two-man game on the weak side with Griesel. The subsequent backdoor cut and perfectly-timed pass is something we have seen regularly from Moors's Bonn team this season.

The action in the last clip deviates slightly from the theme of tip-off plays but offers us a genuinely inventive example of how deep Bonn's experiments into this concept of using a cut, or a screener for the screener, can go.

First, #19 Till Pape, then #11 Brian Fobbs enters into the action to cut and screen for Ike Udanoh. In the end, Griesel ends up rejecting the screen and kicking to Fobbs, who has relocated to the weak side.

Roel Moors's team are really close to securing a berth in the Quarter-Finals. If they continue in this rich vein of form you would have to give them a great chance of getting the job done sooner rather than later. 

Results in the BCL don't always turn out as expected however and there will no doubt be challenges in the road ahead.

One thing is for sure though. Bonn are a team that is clicking at the right time in the season and has a coach that knows what it takes to reach a Final Four.

The only side effect is they may not be able to stay under the radar for much longer. 

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.