AS Monaco ends on a high note. After their defeat in the Euroleague semi-final on Friday against Olympiakos (76-62), the Monegasque club still had a chance to make French basketball history by playing the match for third place against Barcelona, Sunday May 21. It’s done in Kaunas (Lithuania), thanks to a comfortable 78-66 success, making Monaco the first French club to reach the Euroleague podium since the Limoges title in 1993.
Led by eleven points after the first quarter, during which they lost seven balls, the Barcelonans woke up slightly after half-time (44-28 for Monaco), returning in the middle of the third quarter to ten units of Monaco (52-42). The Rock club then accelerated again to seal their victory five minutes from the end (72-53).
Playing time for two French people
The Monegasques thus approach with a victory the start of the playoffs of the French championship, the quarter-final of which against Starsbourg will be played on Wednesday. They will have no room for error after dominating the regular season and losing three of the last four finals (2018, 2019, 2022).
With a view to reuniting with Strasbourg, who almost eliminated Monaco last year at the same stadium, and any subsequent rounds, coach Sasa Obradovic has given two Frenchmen some playing time against Barça: inside Yoan Makoundou (4 points in eight minutes) and especially third leader Matthew Strazel. The 20-year-old former Villeurbannais entered at the end of the first quarter in place of star Mike James (who did not turn back the floor afterwards) to finish as the Roca Team’s top scorer (14 points with a two-point 5/5).
The other key players in ASM’s success were center Donta Hall (9 points and 11 rebounds) and winger Alpha Diallo (10 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists). Winner of the Eurocoupe in 2021, antechamber of the Euroleague, quarter-finalist of the European Cup last year and therefore on the podium in 2023 for their second participation in the competition, AS Monaco will try to climb one more step next year. But returning to the Final Four in 2024 will be “twice as hard”warned Obradovic.