AS Monaco Basketball registered their third victory on the bounce in all competitions after comfortably overcoming Panathinaikos (84-70), whilst some familiar faces returned to the Salle Gaston Médecin.
The clouds of crisis have dissipated at the Principality club over the course of the past week. Victories against Maccabi Tel Aviv, Nanterre and then Panathinaikos on Wednesday ensured that their prior defeats were merely a blip.
The Roca Team have diversified their assets this season. There is no denying that Mike James (11 points) essentially has the keys to this Monégasque project, but players such as Jordan Loyd (18 points), Alpha Diallo (18 points) and Elie Okobo (12 points, four assists) have definitely decreased the dependence on the American point guard.
Diallo and Loyd were particularly decisive in the fixture against their Greek opponents. The former scored eight consecutive points for Monaco in the first quarter, and as always, was diligent and efficient in his defensive work.
Roca Boys back in town
Panathinaikos possess a considerable and familiar attacking arsenal. Dwayne Bacon (10 points) and Paris Lee (nine points), who both played for Monaco last season, returned to the Salle Gaston Médecin, but struggled to influence the game. The aggression and intensity of Monaco’s defence limited their opponents to difficult shots, often on the buzzer.
The Roca Team are used to winning games with their attack, but this one was won with their defence. Already cruising going into the fourth quarter, Panathinaikos withered away at the beginning of the final 10 minutes, allowing Monaco to stride to a comfortable victory (84-70).
The win temporarily moves Monaco above Fenerbahçe in the Euroleague, which is significant, as finishing inside the top four would secure home-court advantage for the end-of-season play-offs.
“Monaco really accelerated in the final quarter and we couldn’t respond,” began former Roca Boy Lee. “Returning here, there is a lot of emotion. I met up with my former teammates and I miss them.”
“All the players gave it their all. We were very aggressive in defence and that paid off with many balls in transition. Now, we have to move on to Baskonia. After finishing late tonight (Wednesday), we have little time to prepare for this match,” said Sasa Obradovic post-match.
Monaco travel to Spain to face Baskonia on Friday, under 48 hours after a gruelling Euroleague display.
Photo by AS Monaco Basketball