AS Monaco Basketball professionally dismantled a well-organised Red Star Belgrade side on Friday (85-77) to join Fenerbahçe at the top of the Euroleague standings.
Roca Team coach Sasa Obradović said he was expecting a “hard game” and that’s exactly what he got. The Serbian fans packed into the Salle Gaston Médecin for the fixture, many of them extending their stay in the Principality after the club’s football side faced AS Monaco the previous night.
However, the Roca Team managed to dampen their spirits on a night where the Principality side’s play-off credentials were once again firmly stated. Prior to last night, four of Monaco’s five Euroleague games had taken place away from home, and upon their return to the Principality, the team were welcomed by a huge crowd at the Salle Gaston Médecin, where the novelty of the hall’s reconstruction is yet to wear off.
In front of some of the Principality’s football heroes, including Thursday’s hat-trick hero Kevin Volland, the Roca Team got off to a solid start in a deafening atmosphere, John Brown III opening the scoring with an easy two-pointer on the break.
However, Monaco couldn’t break away from Red Star, who roared on by their fans found sufficient accuracy from outside the key to deal Obradovic’s side regular blows.
Monaco found themselves up against a stern collective defence, but this year, Monaco have a rich arsenal of attacking firepower to fall back on, and the rotation options off the bench are equally as strong as the starting five.
However, it was once again Mike James (21) who lit up the hall with his range of passing and killer accuracy. “He keeps the team together, sometimes you just have to let him do the things that everyone wants to see,” Obradović told Monaco Life post-match.
His scoring at the death of the second quarter (38-31) allowed Monaco to construct their largest lead in the match up to that point and gave his side breathing room heading into the dressing room.
Red Star hit back at the start of the third quarter, seeing their seven-point lead completely eradicated. The traveling support were carrying their side, and in such moments last season, Monaco may have folded. But not this year. Jordan Loyd (20) helped Monaco re-establish their advantage (51-44) and from that point, Monaco looked largely untroubled. They had broken the back of this tough, resistant Red Star side.
The Roca Team ran out comfortable winners (85-77) and join Fenerbahçe at the top of the table with five wins.
“Red Star are a destructive, tough, and strong team on every possession. It wasn’t easy but we are happy with the win. At the end of the day, we used our awesome individual quality to win the game,” said Obradović.
Due to what Obradović described as “senseless” scheduling, Monaco have a tight turnaround before facing Dijon on Sunday. But given the depth in this Roca Team, Obradović will be able to rotate without breaking the side’s rhythm.
Photo by Monaco Life