Russia take on Greece on Wednesday night with both sides looking to return to the medal rounds of EuroBasket for the first time in longer than either would normally consider acceptable. There will be stars on the court but one man, who might go unnoticed by the casual viewer, could play a big role according to Emmet Ryan
Greece have guns. Kostas Sloukas, Kostas Papanikolaou, Giorgios Printezis, and, albeit not so much this tournament, Vangelis Mantzaris are the types of guys who can rain fire on a cold night. Nick Calathes isn’t exactly shabby either. While Russia will look to Alexey Shved to dominate his time on the ball with an awful lot of buckets, Greece have options. Lots of options.
The talk before this game is going to be heavily on what Greece do about Shved and, probably to a greater degree, Timofey Mozgov. The Greeks don’t have a clear guy to put on the Brooklyn Nets big. How Greece succeed or fail in countering Shved and Mozgov will be the dominant story throughout and after this game. That’s where most eyes will be. I beg you, if even for a short while during the game, to not ignore one guy who is just really good at doing his job.
Andrey Vorontsevich is a luxury in his role with the Russian side. A go about it space closer or creator who happen to have a pretty effective three ball. The threes haven’t been dropping this past week and a half but we are still dangerously in small sample size territory. A regression to the mean for Vorontsevich would be pretty disastrous for Greece because the man is due an awful lot of bombs finding their target.
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The scoring isn’t what makes or breaks Vorontsevich, it’s essentially what moves him from reliable piece to really effective piece. As a reliable piece there is an awful lot to like. He has vision and I don’t mean in terms of passing. The guy can just see the flow of a game. When you’ve got a mad genius like Shved out there, this is kind of important. Like Vitaly Fridzon, he has the experience of having logged serious time working with another unpredictable maestro in Milos Teodosic at CSKA Moscow. While Milos and Shved are wildly different players, Vorontsevich knows that when one of them is on the floor with him he needs to be ready for any and everything.
You won’t see Vorontsevich lose his cool out there. He’s calm without being disinterested. The focus on the task at hand never wavers. He doesn’t need personal glory, at least in terms of gaudy numbers. For him personal success is winning his individual battles and finding a way to help those around him win theirs. If he does that, he knows his side is a step closer to victory.
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But, oh man that three ball. What makes Vorontsevich so effective from outside is that the rest of his game doesn’t point to a guy who can is a career 42 per cent shooter from deep in Euroleague and one coming off a 48 per cent three point shooting season. The guy goes about doing all those dirty jobs. Stopping, starting, rotating, and oh right I’m open see ya later homies, bucket. Then he goes write back to being a guy on the floor.
It’s that combination of unselfishness and awareness that makes him a guy players want to be on the floor with. They know Vorontsevich has confidence and that touches are only part of what he needs to show it out there. On Wednesday the job is Greece. That might mean tiring out Ioannis Bourousis. It might mean trying to get physical with Printezis. And it might mean an awful lot of running in the face of K-Pap. Whatever the job, Vorontsevich is ready and he won’t need the plaudits afterwards. He just wants the W, and a couple of threes if he gets open.
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