AS Monaco Basketball finished the regular Betclic Elite Season with a defeat against Blois (102-76), but fielded an inexperienced team, for which Roca Team captain Yakuba Ouattara apologised pre-match.
“We apologise to the Blois fans,” were the words of Ouattara in a strange build-up to a dead rubber. Whilst stating that the club “respect every team in the division, including Blois and their fans,” the Roca Team simply couldn’t afford to field an experienced side on Tuesday with the club’s first-ever Euroleague Final Four performance coming up in Kaunas on Friday.
None of the other four teams competing in the Final Four, including semi-final opponents Olympiacos, are playing this weak, forcing Sasa Obradovic to search for sub-optimal solutions.
Career-best stats for Yoann Makoundou
“The schedule problems don’t allow us to find an ideal solution. It is our responsibility to prepare our team in the best possible conditions a few days out from a historic moment for Monaco and for French basketball,” said Obradovic.
The match will be unmemorable and inconsequential, with only Yoan Makoundou and Matthew Strazel the only first-team representatives in a youthful side. Both are still Roca Team youth prospects themselves, but were forced to take on a more experienced role against Blois.
Makoundou (28 points) registered a career-highest score, but it wasn’t enough as Blois won each quarter on their way to a comprehensive victory (102-76). Monaco still finish the season top of the Betclic Elite, and will face Strasbourg in the quarter-finals of the post-season.
However, for now, the focus is firmly on the Euroleague. It will be a historic night in Kaunas for the Roca Team on Friday, regardless of the outcome. Ouattara has described Olympiacos as “the best Euroleague team”, and the battle promises to be fierce.
Photo by AS Monaco Basket