Game Notes: ALBA vs. Partizan

Eurocup opener. 111-85 home win for ALBA versus a young Partizan squad who started 17-year-old Marko Pecarski at power forward.

ALBA Berlin

ALBA is feeding off the unselfishness and creativity of Sikma, Grigonis & Siva and the businesslike finishing of Clifford & Butterfield, while getting solid contributions from their role players so far this season.

Sikma could be considered the BBL’s early-season MVP, if that were a thing.

They recorded 21 assists versus Partizan after dropping 31 on Tübingen on Friday.

We’ll have updates on all players throughout the season. Two young players excelled versus Partizan:

Tim Schneider (4.3, 20.0 YEARS, 208CM)

Another very solid performance from Schneider, who’s worked his way into the ALBA rotation early in the season. Had 8 first half points, including a dribble drive finished on an “other foot” layup. Schneider is not making open threes so far this season (2-12 thus far), but was 40-98 for Bernau in Pro B in 2016-17 and went 5-11 in the U20s in Crete last summer. His ability to roll or pop on the ball screen is a valuable tool.

Stefan Peno (1.0, 20.1 years, 197cm)

Peno has been a mixed bag running pick and roll, but ALBA used him successfully in the post against Partizan, where he scored 5 points on 3 post possessions (one turnover) on Williams-Goss.1

Peno had another good game on the defensive end, getting deflections in full court press and using his length defending on the ball in pick and roll.

Partizan

Nigel Williams-Goss (1.7, 23.0 Years, 192cm, class of 2017)

ALBA is arguably the best club Williams-Goss has ever played against so far in his career, and he had trouble dealing with the hosts’ length, physicality & competence, resulting in 7 turnovers. That he still dropped 22 points 9-14 shooting attests to the rookie’s high talent level.

On the plus side, Williams-Goss excelled as a shooter, drilling semi-contested spot up threes and making an advanced shot coming off the down screen, turning, getting his feet set, following through. Had a couple of strong finishes at the rim, absorbing Sikma’s contact for the power layup on one occasion and finishing a reverse layup on the other. Doesn’t have outstanding bulk, but has decent upper body strength and didn’t show any fear challenging shot blockers. Went 3-3 on floaters, and that is no fluke: is 13-22 on runners for the season and finished an excellent 34-68 on runners for Gonzaga last season. In pick and roll, he’s able to put the defender on his hip, get into the gap against a deep/dragging big man defender and get the contested floater to drop.

The negatives were:

  1. Williams-Goss is rather slow, which is why he wasn’t drafted in the first place after an outstanding season in college ball. Doesn’t go downhill with speed when coming off the ball screen.
  2. Ballhandling looked mechanical in Berlin and he seemed uncomfortable in the full-time point guard role. Had serious problems initiating half court offense; took a lot of time advancing the ball upcourt, frequently missed the passing window, thereby breaking the play. Dribbled and held the ball a lot. Had to pivot to escape the defense. Every pass was a second late. Committed two turnovers against full court press. Quickness of decision making can be fixed in the long run.
  3. Struggled defensively, against Peno in the post amongst other areas, but this is in the context of a young team conceding 111 points against a much better and more experienced team on the road.
  4. He’s certainly no NBA-level athlete.

In conclusion, Williams-Goss’ ideal role is likely that of a two-guard next to another playmaker, feeding into his ability to hit spot up threes and make plays off the catch, including running pick and roll off the catch rather than having to create room for himself every trip down the floor. We’ll be monitoring throughout the season.

Vanja Marinkovic (2.5, 20.7 Years, 198cm)

Marinkovic, more of a shooter three/four years ago, has added a smooth dribble drive and competent pick and roll offense to his skill set, which he showed at the U20s last summer. He had three dribble drives in Berlin, fearlessly attacking the basket off the ball screen, off the wing catch and in transition. Is playing a big role for Partizan this season as wing scorer/playmaker.

Looked competent moving the ball in pick and roll offense, including an assist for a Williams-Goss weak side wing three against the hedge and a skip pass to the weak side corner. Has developed good feel & court vision.

Confidently took early jumpshots, including from NBA range. Went 2-6 on three pointers.

Not a particularly rugged/physical defender at this point.

Patrick Miller (1.3, 25.3 years, 184cm, Class of 2014)

Miller has the most ripped/powerful upper body I’ve come across in basketball — a 184cm/6-1ft cannon ball with outstanding verticality, who explodes off the dribble, gets into the lane, makes plays. Had a strong D-League season with Sioux Falls. Big Euro year for him. Third pro season.

Miller has below-average court vision but still played some competent strong side passes against ALBA (who tend to help one pass away), tallying 4 assists in 19:51 minutes (though 5 turnovers too). Showed better quickness of decision making than his backcourt partner Williams-Goss here, played with good intensity and speed.

Not a natural point guard and shouldn’t be counted on to consistently set up offense; but he’s a competent one-on-one player who breaks the defender down and forces defensive rotations.

Marko Pecarski (4.3, 17.6 Years, 206cm)

Getting the starting nod ahead of Velickovic,2 Pecarski had the daunting task of defending Luke Sikma. He quickly conceded a personal foul on the first defensive post possession against Sikma, and a layup on the second.

Pecarski got tough love from teammates (especially the veteran Velickovic) and staff, he isn’t able to defend on this level (yet), committed a turnover on an inbounds pass and another near turnover on another inbounds pass. Pecarski doesn’t have a high defensive ceiling, but this is the type of stuff that 17-year-old generally struggle with when playing against pros.

The positive part is that Pecarski, even at 17, is already a productive offensive player on this level. He took (and barely missed) a spot up three early in the first quarter without hesitation, had a layup off the offensive rebound in the second half, drilled a spot up three and made another simple layup on a cut. He simply kept playing and producing despite the setbacks. Finished with 8 points on 3/5 FG and 6 rebounds.

Djoko Salic (5.0, 22.0 Years, 211cm)

Salic is a rugged post player who attacks his matchup hard looking for contact. Not overly skilled, right-hand dominant. Tries to bully defenders, but Dennis Clifford held his ground against Salic. Foul-prone on defense.

Euro junior basketball followers know him as the impulsive, aggressive post scorer from KK Spars.

  1. Who himself had been a prolific post scorer for Gonzaga last season, averaging 1.3 post possessions per game
  2. Prior to the game, coach Nikolic said that Pecarski would play 15+ minutes in Eurocup