Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka in Europe: Euroleague Week 3 (With Video Links)

Last Thursday and Friday, the Euroleague continued to go strong as we rolled into week three of the preliminary round. Sefolosha and Ibaka both got significant time on their respective clubs, and both are looking to have a strong season.

Sefolosha's Fenerbahce Ulker finally got their first win against SLUC Nancy, picking them up out of the dungeon of Group A. Ibaka's Real Madrid suffered their first defeat at the hands of Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv, putting them in a three-way tie for first.  Without further ado, let's get to the highlights and analysis.

Thabo Sefolosha (Fenerbahce Ulker)

Video Courtesy of TheDrizzleIsLocal

24:11 Played, 19 Points, 5/6 2PTFG, 2/4 3PTFG, 3/6 FT, 5 Rebounds, 1 Block.

If you're just passing through, CLICK ON THE VIDEO ABOVE. SERIOUSLY, DO IT! Because Sefolosha makes it RAIN on the Turkish plain. I remember reading once about Glen Rice's career high game. He spoke of how on good nights, like that, the hoop just becomes bigger and wider in your mind. How easily everything comes to you. Though Sefolosha won't ever have a 40 point game, you have to see how unbelievably efficient his game was from that range. All of his buckets but one came from a near three-point distance.

Unfortunately, this highlight video is very revealing of some of his limitations as well. His first two shots were with his toe on the three point line. I'm not blaming him for the mistake, as he's much better at avoiding them than Serge "Three in the Key" Ibaka, but it does show that he's not really comfortable shooting from an NBA range. Yeah, I'm all for shooting to the basket as close as you can, but I can't help feeling that a better shooter would have stayed further behind the line in order to ensure a three pointer.

You also have to look at his freethrow numbers, three of six. He normally shoots in the mid 60s, but that's a pretty bad percentage for a guard. And it sticks out like a sore thumb on a team consisting of guys like Durant and Westbrook, who shoot insanely high free throw percentages.

Below: Ibaka's Highlights and Analysis!

Serge Ibaka (Real Madrid)

Video Courtesy of DejanBodyIsBack

This is a video of the entire game. Serge Ibaka's comes into the video at 5:34, 37:00, and 108:46. If you just want a link to an awesome Serge Ibaka dunk, click here.

20:43 Played, 9 Points, 3/6 2PTFG, 3/3 FT, 8 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 1 Steal, 1 Turnover, 1 Block

This game features a matchup I've only imagined of in my dreams. Serge Ibaka....vs Soforkis Schortsanitis. Yes, this Soforkis Schortsanitis. One of the Euroleague's biggest and best bruisers in the paint, and the guy who was punched in the back by Nenad Krstic. I shudder to think what would have happened to Krstic had Schortsanitis not been held back.

The matchup was interesting, to say the least. Because Schortsanitis dominated Ibaka. Schortsanitis definitely uses his size to his advantage, burying his back into the other player's chest, forcing them to give a little bit of room. He's also excellent at creating space for rebounds, and he stole a few that would have routinely been Ibaka's. and when it seemed overly obvious Schortsanitis was going for the paint, he would make a excellent pass out to the three point line. Defensively, Schortsanitis was too big for Ibaka to back down, so he'd have to either look for a foul or try to get around him.

However, while Schortsanitis was out of the game, Real Madrid seems to have developed an interesting way of passing to Ibaka. They have a guard run down into the lane and take both paint defenders on one side. The guard then "attempts" a shot, but it's really just a pass off of the backboard to the other side of the hoop. I'm not talking about the highlight clip I linked to, which could have been dumb luck. Rather, I'm moreso referring to two other plays that happened in the game, where the layup taken by the guard looked especially bad. Regardless, it's an excellent and creative play that usually works.

On one hand, I see an improving player who is learning from his mistakes. On the other hand, I see a player who still has some serious flaws. And the biggest of those flaws is his lack of quickness when he has to guard the mid-range shot. Sure, hes an excellent shotblocker, and an excellent post defender. But when a player is outside the post, or there's a quick guard coming his way, he's usually not quick enough to confront them, because he stands too close to the basket for fear of getting blown by. and before you accuse me of calling Ibaka "slow", I'm not saying that at all. Ibaka is very fast, and excellent in the fast break. But there's a difference between fast (maximum total speed) and quick (acceleration). And Ibaka, at least in terms of defensive movement, is not very quick.

I know the review of Ibaka for this game seems overwhelmingly negative, and rightfully so. But I'm not saying here that Ibaka's game needs great improvement, I'm just saying that Jordan Farmar and Soforkis Schortsanitis provide more than a match for Serge Ibaka because they exemplify his weak areas. I'm sure well see more domination from him in future matches.

Next Week's Matches:

Fenerbahce Ulker at Bizkaia Bilbao, Wednesday, November 9th, 1:45 PM CST

Real Madrid at KK Partizan, Thursday, November 10th, 1:45 PM CST

What did you think of Serge and Thabo's performances? Vote in the poll, post a comment!

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