The elimination round of EuroBasket 2011, an international competition pitting 24 European countries against each other with the top two teams qualifying for the Olympics, started 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 second round. To check out last week’s post on the first round, click here.

Off-ball Movement Sets Up Lithuania’s Pick-and-Rolls

We already know that Lithuania loves their pick-and-rolls, as they ran it 30+ times in at least two of their games in this year’s EuroBasket tournament. Fighting for seeding, Lithuania needed a win, and late in the game they found themselves trying to pull away from Germany. To do that, they used the pick-and-roll. However, it was some movement away from that action that freed up Jonas Valanciunas for his two big dunks on the roll to the rim:

We pick up this possession as Jonas Valanciunas gets in position to set a ball screen for his teammate. Valanciunas’ defender, Chris Kaman, is going to step up and hedge on the screen, relying on his teammate’s help defense in the corner to try and stop Valanciunas as he rolls to the rim.

The German defender in the corner is in good position to get in Valanciunas’ way and keep him from catching a lob. However, because his man moves from the corner to the wing (essentially spotting up for a three-point shot), he has to follow him.

That flash from the corner to the wing is enough to get the defender in the corner out of position and give Valanciunas enough space to load up and jump for the lob.

With nobody in front of him, Valanciunas is able to get to the rim, make the catch, and flush home the lob. Here is the play in real time:

This little movement from the corner to the wing is all about timing. If that player flashes too late, he doesn’t draw the help out in time. As you can see, he doesn’t need to chase the corner player all the way out to the wing, he just has to move him a little bit, and that is exactly what happens. This wasn’t the only time Lithuania ran this little movement, proving this was an adjustment more than it was a random happening. Here is another look:

The fact that the defender has to watch the man in the corner and try to keep him from getting a wide-open look as the roll man heads to the rim freezes him just enough to get the wide-open dunk.

Turkey Fails to Execute Late

Needing a win to stay alive in EuroBasket, Turkey trailed Serbia by one point with four seconds left. The Turkish coach drew up a nice play that would use misdirection to get the ball at the top of the key. However, poor execution from the players on the court kept the play from working.

Turkey sets up with point guard Ender Arslan as the trigger man and the rest of the team positioning themselves around the free throw line. As soon as the ball goes to Arslan, Ömer Onan comes off a screen set by Ersan Ilyasova and heads towards the basketball in the corner.

As Onan comes off of the screen, Hedo Turkoglu trails him and gets in position to set a screen on the wing. As this is happening, Emir Preldzic fades to the opposite wing, creating space at the top of the key.

After setting his screen, Ilyasova flashes to the basketball, acting as the safety valve. As this is happening, Onan is supposed to come off of a backscreen set by Turkoglu taking him to the top of they key in to all the space Turkey’s head coach created. However, he instead flashes to the basketball, taking himself and his defender right where Ilyasova is going. That really doesn’t matter as Arslan had no interest to see the play through, inbounding it to Ilyasova as soon as he comes open.

The result is a contested jumper that goes begging. The clock runs out as Serbia knocks the ball around, preventing a putback attempt. Here is the play in real time:

You can see how the play is developing. Turkey is clearing out the top of the key, trying to get one of their players in that space and allowing him to create (with four seconds left he could shoot or drive). However, with the inbounder giving up on the play (though I don’t know if he even gave it a chance) and Onan not even executing it correctly leaves Turkey in a tough position where they have to shoot a contested shot that doesn’t go in and ends Turkey’s EuroBasket run.