Roca Team ended the international season on Sunday with a special victory over Barcelona: 78-66. The Monaco basketball team finished in third place in the EuroLeague with this victory and that is the best performance in the history of the club, which is on the rise. Two years ago Roca Team won the EuroCup and last season it was eliminated by Olympiakos in the quarter-finals.

Last Friday’s hard defeat in the semis to the same Greek team (76-62) ended their ambition to win the tournament, but the Monegasques rediscovered themselves against Barcelona. 

Roca Team started the match well and soon distanced themselves from the opponents, who were clearly struggling to concentrate after the defeat to Real Madrid. With some successful three-pointers (from Alpha Diallo and Jordan Loyd), it led 24-13 after the first quarter. Sasa Obradovic’s team clearly wanted to make something and built the margin in the second quarter with Mathew Strazel as a fresh factor in the team and with Dontan Hall and Elie Okobo as eye-catchers. In the end, Roca Team went into halftime with a 16-point lead: 44-28. 

In the second half, Obradovic offered some regular reserves playing time, such as Jaron Blossomgame and Yoan Makoundou. The team did not make the mistake of the third quarter this time, as it did against Olympiakos on Friday, and held on to the lead, although it was at a very moment reduced to ten (52-42 after 26 minutes). Then Roca Team walked away again and the score was 60-45 after the third quarter. Not much happened in the final quarter, although Nikola Mirotic and Kyle Kuric kept the score a bit bearable for the Catalans in the closing stages: 78-66. Roca Team thus finishes the tournament third, having finished fourth in the regular season.   

Monaco will now focus on the French Championship play-offs. According to the club management, that is also the most important goal of this season, after having already won the Coupe de France. Monaco have never won the French crown but have stumbled in the final twice in the past five years, including last year when they lost to ASVEL in the all-deciding fifth game of the final.  

PHOTO: Dontan Hall