AS Monaco Basketball won the Coupe de France for the first time in the club’s history, beating Lyon-Villeurbanne (90-70) at the Accor Arena in Paris on Saturday.
Manager Sasa Obradovic was pessimistic coming into the final after having suffered an overtime defeat to Strasbourg less than 48 hours earlier (89-98). “Honestly, I wasn’t particularly confident before this final because we had barely any preparation time,” said the Serbian coach.
Therefore, the Roca Team’s first quarter likely came as a pleasant surprise to Obradovic, as Monaco blitzed Asvel. Former Lyon-Villeurbanne player Elie Okobo (20 points, seven assists), who killed Monaco’s chances of winning the championship last season, came back to haunt his former side, leading his side into an early 12-point lead.
Monaco had free-reign inside Lyon’s key, with Donatas Motiejunas (17 points) doing much of the damage. By the end of the first quarter, Monaco had an 18-point lead (33-15), and their opponent couldn’t gain a sufficient foothold to recover.
“The celebrations won’t last long.”
The gap remained at around 20 points throughout. Last year, Lyon were on a level footing with Monaco, but a hierarchy has now been defined. The Roca Team are unrivalled within the borders of La Hexagone.
“We’re bringing the cup home,” said captain Yakkuba Ouattara, who has been a part of the Monégasque project since its humble beginnings. The Coupe de France trophy is a notable milestone in the club’s meteoric rise, but there is plenty more to fight for this season.
“The celebrations won’t last long because we already need to think about the playoffs. We need to represent France and Monaco in the best way possible on the European scene,” said Obradovic.
The Roca Team are still fighting on two fronts, and the chance of a historic treble cannot be ruled out. A victory against Maccabi Haifa at the Salle Gaston Médecin on Tuesday, a homecoming for these Monégasque champions, will set them on their way to reaching the final four in Kaunas.
Photo by AS Monaco Basket