Roca Team run Real Madrid close in Euroleague

AS Monaco Basketball suffered an agonising narrow defeat against Euroleague giants Real Madrid (91-95) on Friday, but maintain their position in the playoff places. 

The Salle Gaston Médecin was packed to the brim like never before for the arrival of the European giants to witness what Roca Team coach Sasa Obradovic said: “couldn’t be a better advertisement for basketball.” 

A game full of tension, drama and personal and collective brilliance reached its climax with 30 seconds on the clock. When Mike James, who usually assumes the mantle of responsibility, received the ball in space on the edge of the key. Uncharacteristically, however, the American point guard, to the surprise of the crowd, as well as Jaron Blossomgame, opted to pass rather than take the T3 shot that could have ensured the victory. James’ compatriot, not anticipating the pass, couldn’t collect the ball, the game literally and metaphorically slipping out of reach. 

Prior to that James (23 points) had been responsible for keeping his team in the tie. Real Madrid, joint top of the Euroleague standings, tried to make the break early on and silence the 4,500-strong crowd. 

However, a definitive break could never be made, and the Roca Team, through James and Élie Okobo (16 points), kept up the chase with their offensive and creative efforts. 

The third quarter has often been Monaco’s Achilles heel this season, but not on Friday, as the Principality side overturned the narrow deficit to go into the final 10 with a one-point lead. 

“Mike James is human”

Through James, the Roca Team had the chance to win it, and go level with Real Madrid, but the opportunity missed, the Spanish side saw out the result to go two wins ahead of Monaco and level with Olympiacos. Obradovic’s side remain fifth. 

The Serbian coach accounted for James’ uncharacteristic error post-match. “He is human after all. Without Mike we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to come back into the match. We can’t come out of this match disappointed. We had the chance to win it,” said Obradovic. 

Monaco next host domestic rivals Asvel at the Salle Gaston Médecin on Friday with pride and points on the line. 

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Photo by AS Monaco Basket