The Roca Team secured the blow at home against Alba Berlin by winning without shaking (91-74) in the Euroleague this Friday. Monaco will face Olympiacos in about ten days (first two rounds on April 19 and 22).
“They will still be there next year!” shouted the Gaston-Médecin announcer a few minutes before kick-off. Guaranteed to finish seventh in the regular phase, AS Monaco was able to play a relaxed Euroleague match for the first time this season, the historic play-off ticket in hand from its first participation in the most beautiful of competitions.
celebration of heroes
In a sold-out room, the Monegasques were received within hours by a public aware of the feat achieved by their heroes. The icing on the cake, Mike James received the trophy for the best Euroleague player of the month for March. In response to the ovation, the American genius remained, as usual, stoic. A few days ago, on Twitter, the native of Portland reproached the fans for a certain backlash: “You were whistling at me a few months ago. Keep your fake love away from me, he wrote. Support the team, enjoy the game but don’t pretend to love me.”
Faced with the ten-time German champion who remained on three victories in the last four meetings, “MJ” will not have been flamboyant (7pts, 4 rebounds, 5pd) but the whistles have not existed for months on the Rock. Present at the edge of the field before starting the Monte-Carlo tournament, the world number 5 tennis player Stefanos Tsitsipas could see it.
An advantage taken quickly and managed quietly
Never in this meeting, the ASM will have been worried. Alpha Diallo had launched the machine by scoring the first points of the best attack in the Euroleague while the Berliners responded first behind the line (4/4 to 3pts) before returning nothing from the first quarter and watching , helpless, Dwayne Bacon (19pts) heat up on a winning shot (26-22). In the second quarter, Paris Lee was decisive while Christ Koumadje, the Chadian giant of Alba (2.23) was clumsy on several occasions.
At the break, the gap was already widened (49-37) and Gaston-Médecin pictured his enthusiasm with a few rounds of ola while waiting for the arrival of Prince Albert II of Monaco, present for the second period to admire a Donatas Motiejunas (18pts, 4 rebounds) well inspired inside as well as on the lancers despite the attempt to destabilize the twenty or so German supporters present in the Principality. ASM managed, offered a few crazy shots like this huge poster by Dwayne Bacon on Christ Koumadjé and learned the identity of their next opponent through the voice of their announcer 2’44 from the end of the match: “It’s official because it’s over in Madrid, it will be Olympiacos in the quarter-finals!”
Olympiacos rather than the Madrid ogre in the quarters
In Madrid, it’s the sensation. After leading by 20 points in the third quarter against Bayern already guaranteed to finish eighth, the White House collapsed in the last quarter suffering a monstrous 38-13. To wonder if the band of French Causeur, Poirier and Yabusele did not drop the match to avoid Monaco in the quarters.
“I don’t know if it was premeditated, smiled Monegasque coach Sasa Obradovic. But if so, it’s not fear… but it shows that we are respected.” The Madrid ogre, ten Euroleague titles, 35 times Spanish champion, will therefore not be the next opponent of the Roca Team. Unlike the Olympiacos of Jean-Charles Livio (ex-ASVEL) or Moustapha Fall, who passed through the Principality during the 2014-2015 season.
“There are only big teams now, recognized the coach. We play for this kind of match, it’s incredible what we were able to do in the second half of the regular season. We are European champions in the return phase (laughs).”
Almost preferred then? “In play-offz, everything is more difficult, he assures. You play against very experienced teams who never panic. beginning of something. I hope we can learn from these kinds of matches.” A few days ago, Monaco largely won on the Rock (92-72) against the triple Euroleague winner (1997, 2012, 2013) carried by a Mike James of the big nights (25 pts) after falling at the Piraeus in November (86-65) during the first leg. It was not the same Monaco, now ready to beat any big name from the Old Continent.