I didn't catch the game between Spain and Serbia live the other day in FIBA EuroBasket Tournament action but I was a little surprised at the result of the game, a 66-57 win for Serbia. 57 is definitely a low number for the Spaniards so I took a look at the game film to see what Serbia did specifically on defense to shut them down. After all, this was the same Spanish team that just about upset the Redeem Team.

Clearly the philosophy behind the Serbs defensive strategy was to clog the lane and prevent any layups. They did this in the following ways:

- they got back in transition defense, sending only 1 to the offensive boards.
- against Spain's deadly fast break with Ricky "Business" Rubio, the Serbs fouled at every opportunity, opting for free-throws rather than allowing layups.
- they helped with at least 1, sometimes 2 defenders on all penetration.
- finally, they doubled the post, but came from the weak side along the baseline.

Combined, it worked to disrupt the offensive flow for the Spaniards. With this kind of "pack line" type defense, the Serbs did give up some open shots, and the Spaniards weren't able to hit shots, going 18-for-42 on 2-pointers, just 2-for-19 3-pointers, and an unconscionable 15-for-28 from the free-throw line.

But I did want to look a little more at the doubling of the post, specifically against Gasol (both Pau and Marc), because it was somewhat unique. The idea is to bring help from the baseline for 2 reasons. The first is that it cuts off the baseline and shuts off the drop step move, forcing the post player to go middle and a slightly more difficult jump hook. The second reason is the double comes from a spot with which it is difficult for the ball handler to see and pass to, thus allowing the rotating defender to easily pick off the pass,

The Serbs must have picked off about 4 or 5 passes this way. The double comes from the blind side. The post attempts to pass out of the double-team by locating from where the double-team came. The weak-side defender easily reads the pass and gets a hand on the ball for the deflection or the outright steal. The Spaniards could never really get a handle on this the entire game.


In one of those situations where you prepare and execute to beat the best team, but then go ahead and lose against an inferior team, the Serbs did just that. After beating Spain, they proceeded to lose to Slovenia. As this tournament progresses, it will be very interesting to see how the final standings end up, with the top 6 out of 13 earning spots to the World Championships next year in Turkey.

For more ideas on defending the post, take a look at Lon Kruger's DVD on Winning Every Possession on Defense. Coach Kruger is the head coach of UNLV.


  1. Dooj  

    September 10, 2009 at 11:45 AM

    This is similar to the "pack" defense that WSU ran under the Bennetts. Tony and Dick both ran this defense and turned WSU into a top defensive team.

  2. CoachJimmy  

    September 14, 2009 at 6:16 PM

    same thought, Dick Bennett's DVD's on the Pack line cover this double team strategy very well.