Breaking down Italy’s Eurobasket Offensive Concepts

The growth of social media and the availability of live and recent images and film has allowed me amazing learning opportunities. If we skip back to my first ever Eurobasket in 2007 when a parent with a fancy laptop at the time downloaded and burned the games onto DVDs for me. (Thanks Mr Vaughan — very much appreciated) to now where FIBA has been uploading full games with English commentary on their Youtube channel only a few days and weeks after the major tournament. The difference is huge and to add to that a fantastic group of club coaches who constantly challenge each other, my learning environment has never been healthier.

This brings me to why I watch international basketball — it is my learning opportunity, what is the new way to play? How are we guarding ball screens? How are we getting deep catches ? No longer do teams have 1 out and out player who has endless Iso sets run for him. We now see free flowing offensive concepts which include many actions based on where the ball is on the floor, the skill set of the player, the time on the clock — some very smart players on the court.

So why did I choose Italy — well Slovenia had the best guard in the tournament and so everything went through him — delay pick and roll, hand off — whatever they wanted, he warranted to much help — the rest is history. But Italy had multiple shooters, plenty of bigs, not the most talented guards — I wanted to see what Messina had up his sleeve, and boy did he have some treats-making teams guard multiple big to small actions.

Box entry — big to small at the top and small to big on the baseline — straight away taking help away and if a team is caught behind or late a switch will be punished.

Safe catch — no advantage — pressure release is a stagger screen — really smart bit here is the ‘3’ screens first and the ‘5’ second that stops a guard switching out from the second screen

Finally you see the 1st screener receiving a flair screen from the ‘5’ — another big to small action. If after all that you have no advantage they ended in pick and roll.

They also had a counter for if the initial entry pass could not be made. They set the same entry, but they fronted the ‘3’ so the ‘5’ pops to receive the ball, the ‘1’ goes and gets the ball and makes the post entry pass.

From a safe catch — they have the pressure release action. The passer cuts through and the ‘5’ down screen the ‘3’ and then sets a 2nd down screen for the ‘2’.

Secondary actions / counters / pressure release — whichever terminology you prefer to use. You must have a 2nd entry point to your offensive actions, good coaches and players will take away your ideal entries — how do you teach your players to make next pass easy, to keep the ball moving?

I will be scouting some of the other teams over the coming weeks. If you have any further information on Italy please share. This is one set that I saw out of many that caught my eye — what set’s catch your eye? A set like this involves all 5 players, if a player feels involved on offence, they often run harder and play defence harder — so the next time you are thinking of just running sets for your best player, make sure you keep the other 4 players in mind who are sacrificing themselves for the team — get them a ball touch to.