Roca Team will play in the final for the French championship for the fourth time in six seasons. Monaco’s basketball team defeated Bourg-en-Bresse on Saturday for the third time this week, ensuring a place in the final. Meanwhile, defending champion ASVEL must beat Mets 92 (Boulogne-Levallois) on Sunday to have a chance of reaching the final. For now, the club from the Paris suburb leads 2-1.

Monaco lost the final each time in 2018, 2019 and 2022 and can become French champions for the first time this year, having already won the Coupe de France for the first time in April. 

Monaco was stronger in all three matches with Bourg-en-Bresse. It had won all of its home games on Monday (96-79) and Wednesday (105-99) before starting its first away game on Saturday at Ekinox Arena. Manager Obradovic said before the play-offs that after the efforts in EuroLeague, in which his team finished third, his team should not tire themselves: “It is especially important that we can qualify for the final quickly. The fewer games we play, the fitter we are in the final to finish the job.” In the quarterfinals, the fastest route was also chosen by beating Strasbourg twice. That makes a total of five wins in a row to reach the final. 

In Bourg-en-Bresse Roca Team started strong with three-pointers of Montiejunas (2x), Strazel and Okobo quickly providing a clear lead. After eight minutes it was 19-10 for Roca Team and at the end of the first quarter 24-17. The Monegasques held on to this margin throughout the match. Every time the team from Ain hoped to clear the backlog, the guests walked away. Jaron Blossomgame and Yoan Makoundou ensured Monaco retained the lead and at the time of the buzzer before the end of the first half, Mike James struck with a magical throw (41-45). 

In the third quarter, Monaco were back on track. Mike James and Jordan Loyd excelled with strengths, while Yakuba Ouattara had a couple of useful scores at this stage. With a 67-60 lead, Roca Team entered the final quarter. In the end, a beautiful three-pointer by Mike James as a kiss of death ended hope for the home team to tilt the game. Monaco even ran out to 85-71 in the closing stages. 

The final is played according to the best-of-five system with Roca Team playing the first two matches in its own Salle Gaston Médecin. 

FILE PHOTO: Mike James