The Roca Team got off to a strong start in the finals of the Betclic Elite French Basketball Championship by convincingly winning the first game against Paris Basketball by 90-80, in front of delighted supporters in the stands of the Salle Gaston Médecin on Tuesday, June 4. The Principality side is still two victories away from successfully defending their title, and can take an important step towards that goal on Thursday, June 6 in game two.

Monaco’s Mike James was the big star on Tuesday evening, as he distinguished himself with some great hits and went on to account for a staggering total of 31 points, achieved in 25 minutes of play.

It was, without exaggeration, Mike James’ show. The American star player deserves all the superlatives based on this performance. If you’re a sports fan and haven’t seen him in action yet, you should go to Salle Gaston Médecin to see him. The highlight was his three pointer from all the way in his own half to beat the buzzer before the end of the second quarter. James went straight to the locker room, leaving everyone in the stands stunned.

However, his teammates also showed their best side in this first final. Paris Basketball was clearly bothered by the fact that it had to play a fifth game against ASVEL Villeurbanne on Sunday to qualify for this final. The guests had a hard time finishing and saw Jaron Blossomgame and Élie Okobo score expensive points in addition to James. Despite the fireworks of the first quarter, the scoreline stood at a slightly too close for comfort 23-18.

The Mike James’ show still had yet to begin, as he began to shine in the second quarter. James soloed as if the defenders weren’t there and threw a few three-pointers with confidence. The audience reacted very enthusiastically, and this was rewarded with even more beautiful actions. Alpha Diallo and Matthew Strazel also distinguished themselves with some remarkable hits. With his throw at the buzzer, James made it 46-30 at halftime. In the first half alone, he was good for 21 points.

In the third quarter, James immediately scored, but then Paris fought back strongly and finally made also some three-pointers (of Nadir Hifi) after ten failed attempts in the first half. But before the guests could hope for a quick comeback, James and Okobo restored the margin. After the third quarter, the difference stood at twenty points: 73-53.

Paris immediately managed to score two within forty seconds in the final quarter, prompting coach Sasa Obradrovic to ask for a time-out to make it clear to the players that the game is not yet decided. Paris came into the game better and snatched part of the deficit, even chipping nine points away from their hosts’ considerable lead, but thanks to some useful scores from Okobo, the Roca Team remained on top. In the final minutes, there was enough time for Mike James to add five more points to his total.

The hero of the evening didn’t want to talk about his own performance afterwards: “It was very important to start this best-of-five with a win and we managed to do that. We can’t dwell on this for too long because there is still a game we have to win on Thursday. The start is good, but we have to keep our feet on the ground.”

Featured image courtesy of @ASMonaco_Basket on X, Mike James warming up before putting on a show for home fans in the Salle Gaston Médecin