The Roca Team has secured its place in the EuroLeague play-offs yet again. With one round to go in the regular season, Monaco’s basketball team is in third place and can no longer fall out of the top eight. Last Thursday, coach Sasa Obradovic’s team defeated Lithuanian Zalgiris Kaunas (69-66), making it certain that the Roca Team will participate in the playoff battle for the crown of European basketball for the third season in a row.

“We have now won more games than last season, with one home game (against Bayern Munich) to go. But it is still too early to draw a conclusion. We want to finish the competition as high as possible, so that we have a better chance of reaching the Final Four in the quarterfinals,” the Serbian coach said afterwards. “It was especially important that we won because we certainly didn’t play our best game. We know we need a higher level to move forward in this season. We still make mistakes sometimes, which we should avoid.”

The Roca Team got off to a good start and led halfway through the game (39-29), but saw the lead shrink in the second part of the game. It was a bit tense in the final stages, but in the end Monaco won. Mike James distinguished himself again as top scorer with 18 points, while the Lithuanian Motiejunas was good for 14 points against his former club, including four in the last minute with which he ended the game.

Obradovic feels compelled by the busy schedule to rotate a lot in these testing weeks. James seems to have lost some of his top form, after all the celebrations of the last few weeks as the all-time top-scorer of the EuroLeague. “He’s a bit through physically, but I’m sure he’ll be back to his top form when the decisive phase of the season arrives,” the coach said of his star player.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Panathinaikos, Olympiakos and Fenerbahçe are also set for the play-offs. This year’s Final Four will take place in Berlin from May 24 to 26. The Roca Team made it to the Final Four last season and finished third, having departed in the quarterfinals in the previous season.

Featured image courtesy of AS Monaco Basket: The Roca Team’s magic Mike James