The Roca Team did not get off to an ideal start in the EuroLeague playoffs. The basketball team of Monaco suffered a painful defeat against Fenerbahçe in overtime, 91-95. A huge setback for the team, which finished the regular season in third place and therefore has the advantage to play the fifth game in this round in front of a home crowd.

As a result of this defeat, The Roca Team now needs to win at least one match in Istanbul to make use of that advantage. The second game will be played in Salle Gaston Médecin on Friday, April 26.

The Turkish team has built up a certain reputation in European basketball and won the continental title as recently as 2017. Sasa Obradovic had already described the strength of the opponent before the match; “Fenerbahçe is a very high investment, a big budget, a great history, a fantastic venue, an army of supporters. Fener has very strong offensive qualities and NBA-calibrated players. It’s going to be very difficult for us. We’re going to have to be smart enough, use our experience from previous years to take advantage of our home-field advantage. We’re entering another competition with these play-offs. Another level of pressure.”

Monaco started the game ambitiously and had a ten-point lead after six minutes. After the first quarter, the score stood at 26-15. Lithuanian star player Donatas Motiejunas was good for eight points in this phase. But Jordan Loyd, Mike James and Matthew Strazel also stood out with highlights. Monaco’s supporters felt that their own team was in the right shape. The team even took a 34-20 lead after fifteen minutes, but then Fenerbahçe slowly but surely got back into the game. Halfway through the game, the difference was only nine points: 46-37.

In the first four minutes after the break, the Turks worked most of the deficit and from that moment on it became an exciting match in which the differences were small, but still in favor of the Monegasques. After 27 minutes, the score was 54-51 and eventually the third quarter ended with 61-60.

It certainly became restless in the room, as Monaco had lost control over the game and struggled to stay upright at the high pace of the Turks. But in the last quarter, the Monegasques got off to a better start and thanks to Loyd and Blossomgame, Roca Team ran out to 70-63. The hope that a decisive gap had now been opened turned out to be in vain, because the Turks came back strong and eventually equalised ten seconds before the end; 81-81.

Five minutes of overtime determined the winner. Motiejunas gave Monaco the lead with a penalty throw (82-81), but then the Turks waltzed over the home team, taking the lead for the first time and building it up to 86-94. Eventually Fener took the win by 91-95.

A false start for Monaco, which is especially a setback for coach Sasa Obradovic, as the Serb wants to reach the Final Four with his team. Last year, the Roca Team finished third. “To make it to the Final Four two years in a row would be great. And if we achieve that, anything is possible,” he said on Tuesday at the presentation of this game.

It is the third time in a row that the Roca Team participate in the play-offs of the EuroLeague. Last season, it even made it to the Final Four, finishing third. Everyone at the club wants that performance to be at least equaled. The coach said before the first game: “We finished 3rd in the regular season this year, which is exceptional. Monaco’s budget is also much lower than that of many clubs that have already been eliminated. We can say that our choices have been good, in terms of recruitment and in terms of the stability we have promoted. Now, everyone knows each other very well and knows what they can give on the pitch. The chemistry is real, the human relationships are good. So, it’s yielded incredible results. But they don’t mean anything anymore. The real job is only just beginning.”

Featured image courtesy of AS Monaco Basket