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One Day, One Play: Luis Scola huge steal against Barcelona

17/03/2020
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Luis Scola is almost 40 years old, but he has the same heart, enthusiasm and passion of when he was playing basketball in Argentina as a underage prospect, well before embarking on a legendary career in Europe and the United States. This play, in the Milano’s game against Barcelona, ​​represents all of Scola: commitment, instinct, courage.

Barcelona is about to inbound the ball on offense. Adam Hanga has the inbound pass responsibility. Brandon Davies executes a screen to free Kyle Kuric from Amedeo Della Valle’s grip. But Hanga doesn’t attempt the short pass to the Barcelona guard. He could probably get the ball, but Della Valle is close, Rodriguez contests the pass, and obviously he doesn’t feel like it’s a safe play. Besides, the Davies screen is executed exactly in order to eventually get himself open to receive the pass. Davies has a one-meter advantage when Hanga has clearly decided to make that type of pass.

Look at Luis Scola. While Barcelona is preparing to make the inbound play, his position is one of pure containment. He takes place between Davies and the basket, in an ideal position to help on Kuric if the latter receives the pass and immediately attack the paint. The cautious defensive play would be to let Davies get the ball far from the basket. But instinct suggests much more. As soon as he understands that the pass for Davies is certain, Scola switches gears and sprints in an attempt to get on the ball before the opponent. And he does it with a split-second advantage, using his left hand, practically snatching the ball from Davies.

The rest of the play is a solitary drive to the basket. Obviously, Davies is a high-level athlete, faster than Scola. His first thought, when he loses control of the ball, is to chase Scola and block the shot from behind, a classic LeBron James play. But Scola is aware of the situation. Right when he is about to lay the ball in, he uses the back and the shoulders to protect the arm, to create separation with the opponent. So not only Davies fails to get on the ball, but commits the foul that generates a huge three-point play.