Took in the friendly between Spain and Argentina yesterday, and wow, what a great game it was. I was fully expecting both teams to go through the motions, not show their hand, and substitute liberally. Instead, I was very surprised to watch a very intensely fought game, with both teams going all out to win.

In the end, Spain won by 25 points, but the game was a lot closer than the final score of 85-60 showed. What was the difference-maker?? Spain's stifling defense. The way they play defense, I could easily them winning the whole thing. Here are a few sequences from the second half,

Trap and Zone up:

Spain plays a very aggressive M2M switching half-court defense. They run a lot of run and jump and half-court traps. Here, they switch the ball-screen and they force the ball to the corner. X1 is digging between a trap and O4. X2 has switched to take O4 at the high post, and X3 is splitting O2 and O3 on the other side. As O1 prepares to skip the ball, X3 anticipates it. Because O3 is between the basket and O1 and therefore O1 cannot skip it to O3, X3 is able to jump the pass and steal the ball,

A couple of the other clips, great help-side defense coming for the weak-side block by Gasol; anticipating the inbounds, because in FIBA you cannot go backcourt once you are in the frontcourt; finally just great transition defense forcing the ball wide, then help to take away the easy layup forcing a bad pass.


Argentina has great team shooting, that is their tactical advantage. Spain's defense however has been able to take that away. Ginobili can penetrate, but then you have great help defense. Now, the ultimate question, how does Spain and Team USA matchup? If Team USA gets bogged down in a half-court game, they could be in trouble. They need to push the ball and use their depth and athleticism to their advantage.

If you're a pressure and trapping coach, you should check out Dana Altman's new DVD on his Green and Blue Press. Coach Altman is Creighton University's head coach. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.