The Lead Point
It’s always enthralling to watch Bayern Munich coach Andrea Trinchieri work his magic on the sidelines. The Italian is always going up and down the floor in front of the bench, cheering on his players and is as colorful a personality there is in European basketball. The way he moves his hands, grooves his body and puts himself into the game is like none other. There is only one Andrea Trinchieri.
He is a conductor at work with his orchestra at his fingertips as his gets the best out of his players game in and game out as one by one they buy into his philosophy.
Trinchieri is honest with his squad and will let them know when they have to be better, but his constant encouragement is addictive. In fact, the Bayern Munich bench made the clash at Yad Eliyahu into a home game for the Germans as the cheering and rooting went on nonstop from their squad. Without the Maccabi fans on top of Trinchieri he knew full well that with a bit of passion and enthusiasm he would be able to win the game, which of course he did.
But watching Trinchieri on they sidelines is only part of the show. The second act is the post game press conference where every media member was hanging onto every word the Milan native had to say. It was gospel exiting the 52-year old’s mouth waiting to be gobbled up by the attentive press.
How big a win was it really for Trinchieri? Let me tell you a story.
A few years back when he was the coach of Bamberg he spoke about the “ghosts” that are in Yad Eliyahu and that it’s one of the most difficult places to win a game. So I prefaced my question to coach Trinchieri about him being able to banish those “ghosts”. Here is the answer he gave me, “There was once an Italian tennis broadcaster who was doing Roland Garros and he had this expression that I will never forget. That there are games that you put a red circle on these games. For me going to Tel Aviv they will always have a red circle. It’s very hard, but the few times I can go home with a win, it’s sweet.”
Honesty as I said earlier about Trinchieri is always the best policy, “It was a weird game and I believe that we played some good moments especially on defense. We saw what we can do on the good side of basketball and the bad. We made so many mistakes in the last 50 seconds but I will swallow it and cope with their mistakes and make them better from their mistakes. It’s a great feeling to win here and we go home with a very big win on the road.”
Trinchieri continued, “I believe the players should enjoy a great win a bit, but a coach has to think about the next game and keep them moving to the next one. New rotation of players and keep them fresh. We have a very green backcourt with players who haven’t played Euroleague but they have bought in and will play with adversity. I will live with their mistakes and believe me it gives me headaches but I prefer to that kind of attitude form my players. I will stay with their mistakes and try to make them better but there is no substitute for players that will dive on the floor, there is no substitute for that.”
He also referenced his time as the coach of Partizan Belgrade over the past couple of years who played in the EuroCup, “When you’re the coach of Partizan you don’t miss anything, you don’t coach a team, you coach something different.”
There is no one better than Trinchieri when there is a microphone in front of him. He is a ham for the camera and a showman extraordinaire. He’s got to be considered right up there with the likes of Jose Mourinho with his quotes and notes. Now the challenge he has to do is be able to win as much as the Portuguese bench boss has.
There’s a bit more from Trinchieri later on in the 3-Pointers.
1) Houston we have a problem. In fact, Maccabi Tel Aviv have numerous problems. It was clear that Andrea Trinchieri and Bayern Munich smelled blood when he put the red circle around the matchup in Tel Aviv and he came in ready to roll to take the victory which is exactly what he did. Bayern out-hustled, out-played, out-passioned and just plain old out did Maccabi at Yad Eliyahu. Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos knew what he was heading into and was unable to get off to a good start putting Maccabi in a position that they just couldn’t get out of especially after the second quarter when they scored only 10 points and 25 points total for the half. The Yellow & Blue played right into Bayern’s open and waiting hands and fell into this lull that they couldn’t get out of. Part of the issue is that Maccabi is still getting into shape as they began preparations way after every other team due to the Israeli League ending in late July. “We have only been training for about six weeks and we are still finding our rhythm,” said Sfairopoulos. “We still are looking for our game shape and we need to keep playing games in order to find that. We still have to work and I don’t want to look for excuses. We only lost one game and we have to move on.”
Scottie Wilbekin echoed the coach’s comments, “I think we have to learn how to play together and find out how to cooperate with each other on reads. We have to hurry up and get this stuff. At this point we need all the practice we can get over playing games.”
“There are no excuses,” began Elijah Bryant. “This is our job and we can say it’s because the pandemic and short preseason but we have to start the game in good fashion. We have to come more ready to play. Bayern came out and hit us in the face and we have to punch them in the face first.”
2) Part of Maccabi’s problems are that they are trying to put a square peg into a round hole. The pieces Sfairopoulos has aren’t the same as last year and as my brilliant colleague Lukas Feldhaus said “You can’t ride a horse the same way you ride a donkey.” Truer words have never been spoken. Sfairopoulos doesn’t have a defensive ace in Quincy Acy who is sitting at home just waiting for a better offer than the ones he has received to date. With Acy, Vladimir Lucic and friends don’t get to party all over Yad Eliyahu. John DiBartolomeo is still on the shelf and if he was healthy that would free up Wilbekin from his ball handling duties ai Sfairopoulos after the game. We are still waiting for Chris Jones to play more minutes as the only other true point guard played only 9:46. Wilbekin spoke about what it’s been like playing with Jones, “I like playing with Chris and getting off the ball. He’s a new player and as a team we haven’t done the best job of figuring out how to play with each other. We need more time to get the most out of each other.”
3) We are certainly waiting to see if Dragan Bender can really start to play the passionate basketball that Maccabi is hoping. The issue is perhaps he just can’t and maybe we are now understanding what NBA teams have seen since being drafted in 2016 by the Phoenix Suns. Is he really a replacement for Acy? The answer thus far is a resounding no. “Dragan hasn’t played for months and it’s normal that he will have ups and downs,” began Sfairopoulos. “Up until two weeks ago he was just doing individual practices. We trust him and he has quality and he will find his rhythm and role. I know many are comparing Bender and Zizic, but Zizic was here from the first moment and Bender wasn’t so Zizic is still in better shape.” Wilbekin also commented on playing with the two new big men, “I’m still trying to get used to playing with Zizic and Bender and it’s nice but we’re just trying to talk and figure out what we can do better, learn from this and move forward.”
Once we are on Ante Zizic, although he scored 19 points through 3 quarters he didn’t step on the floor in the fourth frame for better or for worse. I asked Sfairopoulos why and he said, “We wanted to play a switching defense and I was thinking with Hunter on Baldwin we would be better than Zizic on Baldwin.” Now, will Zizic be able to play a switching defense in due time? I have my serious doubts about that. He just isn’t as flexible as Hunter is and as Tarik Black and Amare Stoudemire were. I’ll even add Jalen Reynolds to that mix who went on to have a festive return to Yad Eliyahu with 14 points. Yes, perhaps Jalen Reynolds would have been a better fit for Maccabi than Zizic especially if he can’t do what the coach needs. This is something that will bear watching as the games roll by.
Vladmir Lucic has been having one heck of a season and he continued that against Maccabi Tel Aviv. The Serbian scored his Euroleague career high in points with 26 and notched his highest efficiency rating with 29 in a game that he dominated with solid play shooting 7/8 from the field (4/5 from 3) and 8/9 from the free throw line. “I’m really happy that we won today,” Lucic said. “We started pretty good from the first minute of the game defensively and I just made my shots today, so it’s a big victory for us.”
Under Trinchieri, Lucic has been taken 13 attempts from beyond the arc in three games putting him on a pace to take 147 over the course of the 34 game regular season which would be double what he has ever taken in a season. Now if he keeps up his rate of 69% from deep well he would set all kinds of records. Not that he will, but the fact that Trincheri has put such faith in Lucic, who has proven to be a solid player and one who also scored 22 points for Serbia against Israel in a 2019 World Cup qualifier at Pionir Arena, is just a testament to both coach and player. “He’s our most representative player and he’s our Che Guevara, our leader. He doesn’t talk much and I love players whose actions speak louder than their words.” Like I said earlier, Trinchieri just is a master of words.