EuroBasket 2011, an international competition pitting 24 European countries against each other with the top two teams qualifying for the Olympics, started on September 1st. The second round started today. With real live basketball action¬†featuring a number of NBA players taking place, I thought now would be the perfect time to a break from looking at the NBA’s season leftovers and look at some of the best and worst plays of EuroBasket’s first round.

France Rotates and Gets a Stop

On the final day of round 1, Serbia and France played each other to determine the winner of their group. In the middle of the fourth quarter, France found themselves up one point, looking to get a stop on the defensive end. Serbia went with a pick and roll, however good rotation from France forced Serbia into a tough shot.

We pick up this possession with Nenad Krstic setting a ball screen for Milos Teodosic. France is going to defend this ball screen by hedging hard with Kevin Seraphin and having the man defending the ball handler go over the top of the screen. That isn’t the only rotation that needs to be made, however. On the weakside, Mickael Gelabale, who is defending a Serbian in the corner, dives to the middle of the paint to defend the roll man.

In addition to Gelabale diving to the middle to dissuade a pass to the roll man, Tony Parker puts himself in help position as well. Parker is smartly in a position where he can make a play on a pass to Krstic, he can stop dribble penetration if Seraphin’s hedge isn’t good enough, or he could return to his man if the pass to the corner.

The pass does end up going to the corner, and that allows Gelabale to get in position and take away and chance Krstic has at an open lay-up. The pass France is giving up is the skip pass to the corner, but if that is made, there would be enough time for Gelabale to return to his man. Eventually, Krstic gets the ball and is forced into a tough turnaround shot. Here is the play in real time:

This was the third pick and roll that Serbia attempted on the possession, and the third one that France was able to thwart. Good rotation and position by the French defenders kept Teodosic from getting an open jumper or hitting Krstic directly on the roll. They forced the pass into the corner, and that extra pass allowed Gelabale to get all the way over to Krstic and force the bad shot.

Andrea Bargnani’s Intentional Foul with the Game Tied

One of the craziest games of EuroBasket so far was a game that didn’t really matter in the standings. Both Italy and Israel found themselves on the outside looking in on the final day and a win or loss wouldn’t affect the standings. That didn’t mean both teams weren’t playing hard. In overtime, they found themselves tied in the final seconds as Italy tried to get a basket with time running out.

After Israel got the rebound, they attempted to dribble out the clock, keep the ball from Italy, and force a second overtime. Right as the horn is about to sound, Andrea Bargnani comes over and takes an intentional foul. I don’t have to tell you why this is a problem, as Italy was over the limit. With the game tied, Israel was able to knock down one of two free throws and win the game.

One of EuroBasket’s main differences from the NBA is that players have to be very aware of their situations. You foul out with five fouls, and teams get into the bonus very easily. Combine that with less timeouts (they can only be called on dead balls, if reported to the scorer’s table ahead of time), and it forces the players to be very aware of situations. However, you should know if the game is tied or if you are down one. For that reason, this is definitely the worst play of EuroBasket so far.