Despite an early scare against Le Mans, AS Monaco Basket reached their first cup final of the season with a win on Sunday (87-78).
After a disappointing exit in the LNB Pro A Leaders Cup in February, the Roca Team were on the hunt for silverware in Trélazé this weekend. The Principality side comfortably dispatched Pau-Lacq-Orthez on Saturday (78-98) to make it through to the semi-finals the following day.
Mike James-less Monaco to face Asvel in the final
Monaco set up a semi-final against Le Mans on the Sunday, with a place in the grand final in the AccorArena in Paris on 22nd April up for grabs. Le Mans gave the Roca Team a scare in the first quarter (26-15), but Monaco woke up in the second; Alpha Diallo levelled the scores (28-28) with an unreplied 10-point streak.
Nonetheless, Monaco went into the break with a narrow deficit and, without the suspended Mike James, had to find the solutions to construct an advantage. Matthew Strazel (17 points), Jordan Loyd (17 points), Chima Moneke (11 points) and Elie Okobo (11 points) were all pivotal in a solid collective second-half performance.
Monaco wrestled back control of the match in the fourth quarter in a game blighted by poor discipline and a mammoth 89 free throws. Ultimately, however, the victory was secured (78-87), and the Roca Team advance to a final against arch-rivals Asvel, who beat Strasbourg later that evening.
“Despite the circumstances, (66 fouls, 89 free throws), we found a way to win. I am happy with the qualification. It was an objective at the start of the season,” said Sasa Obradovic post-match.
Fourth successive success in the Euroleague
Prior to the weekend’s cup action, Monaco won their fourth Euroleague match on the bounce against Virtus Bologna (81-68) at the Salle Gaston Médecin. With all the talk pre-match revolving around James’ absence, the Roca Team did their talking on the court and produced some brilliant sequences to beat their Italian rivals.
Okobo (21 points), Loyd (15 points) and Donta Hall (13 points, seven rebounds), who has forged a good understanding with John Brown III (six points, seven rebounds), were all key in a controlled match on Monaco’s part.
Crucially, the victory allows Monaco to take fourth place in the Euroleague standings, which ensures a home-court advantage in the end-of-season playoffs.
“Reaching the playoffs is important for Monaco, for France, for French basketball. We must continue like this,” said Obradovic.
Monaco face Le Portel in the Betclic Elite on Tuesday before hosting Valencia Basket at the Salle Gaston Médecin on Friday.
Photo by AS Monaco Basket