Monegasque from 2015 to 2020, the back is back after a mixed season at Real Betis. You can’t refuse to play the Euroleague with the Roca Team!
One after your departure in Spain you are back in Monaco. Are you tired of playing at the bottom of the table in La Liga?
I admit that it did not necessarily enchant me (smile). Monaco playing the Euroleague, it was a very good option.
Didn’t you have the keys to stay in Spain, the best league in Europe?
I didn’t watch too much. Returning to Monaco was obvious. Coming back here is anything but easy. I’m still going to discover the Euroleague and there was no better place than Monaco to start at this level. The club knows me and knows how to use me.
How has the club changed the most since your first signing in 2015?
The club has gone upmarket year after year, but the mentality and the people remain the same. From the start, the club has had this ambition to be competitive, to play at the highest level possible and to want to win.
For its first year in the Euroleague, Monaco has formed a real Dream Team! Does that put extra pressure? With such a team, you cannot be champion of France!
Personally, I don’t feel the pressure because I don’t really look at what is being said around. We must not cut corners any more, the team is still being built. For now, these are just names, certainly big names, but they are only individuals and you have to manage to build a team. There are a lot of talents in the team, but we have to give us a little time.
Among all these big names, which one impresses you the most?
Obviously Mike James!
We will have to manage the egos …
Everyone has their own character… But it’s also part of the team building: we all have to be on the same wavelength.
The Euroleague is in everyone’s mind, but isn’t the danger of forgetting the championship after which Monaco has been chasing for quite a few years?
There are no risks. If the squad has 15 players, it is to be able to play on both counts. Of course, the players came because there was the Euroleague, but the championship is also important. In addition, there will be a turnover so the players who will be present on the scoresheet with the desire to play.
The priority is therefore to be champion of France …
It’s clear, but we also hope to be as competitive as possible and to go as far and as quickly as possible in the Euroleague. In the league, we know we will be the team to beat, but it was already like that in previous years (to smile).
“In the league, we know that we will be the team to beat, but it was already like that in previous years”
Coming back to Mike James, we are talking about a record salary of 1.4 million per year. Doesn’t that risk disrupting the locker room?
His signature is only positive. He’s going to bring us an incredible Euroleague experience. We want to win as many games as possible and Mike James is a plus. Many teams would have liked to have it! (to smile)
Like Mike James, a lot of players with big CVs have joined the French championship. Is the latter getting closer to the Spanish championship?
We’re getting closer, but we’re not there yet. Physically, we are above it, but in La Liga all the teams are competitive. There is not a game where we can say that we are going to relax. In France, a little more … (to smile)
How to always explain this influx of large CVs in Betclic Elite?
The clubs have more ambition. The fact that in France players are fairly well protected in terms of their working conditions is not unrelated either.
You can possibly host your Euroleague matches in your room and not in Antibes. Is it a relaxation?
It’s huge ! If we hadn’t been able to play in our hall, it would have made us feel weird and we would have felt like we were playing outside. Antibes is not a room where we train, it would have been necessary to move around, it would have been complicated.
“We have everything you need to exist in the Euroleague”
We often play with the Monegasque public when it comes to football, is there a basketball public in Monaco?
Yes and more and more. The number will certainly even increase with the Euroleague and the players who have signed.
Can Monaco surprise for its first season in the Euroleague?
In any case, on an all that is necessary to exist. If the club has built such a workforce, it is because it is ambitious.
Having started at CRO Lyon, have you never been contacted by ASVEL?
Yes, I even passed the detections. The club wanted to recruit me, but I had opted for Chalon. ASVEL came back, the last time we spoke was before I left for Spain, but it never happened. I then wanted to discover another championship.
You only stayed one season in Spain, what have you always learned?
It’s still a good experience even if it was frustrating to play maintenance and lose the weekend. I thought we would have better results. We had a great team, but we never knew how to play together.
Was there a match that marked you?
Both against Barça. I had never known such intensity! With Monaco, we are used to putting pressure on our opponents, but undergoing it is something.
When will you return to the French team?
It’s always a goal. Afterwards, it is true that I was called especially on the windows where there were not the Euroleague and NBA players, but it is always a pride to wear this jersey and I want to participate in a competition with the Blues.
Has the NBA dream also passed after an aborted attempt at the Nets in 2017/2018?
If I have to go back, I will be happy, but it is no longer a goal. My mentality has changed. The NBA is big business and going there just to go is not interesting.
Seeing Chalon in Pro B must make you sad?
It tore my heart to see them come down. In view of their recruitment, I hope that they will recover quickly because the place of Chalon is in the elite.