The Roca Team took a huge step towards reclaiming the championship title of France on Sunday. The basketball team of Monaco recorded a solid victory by 88-59 points in the first away match against Paris Basketball and in a sold-out Adidas Arena in front of eight thousand spectators. On Wednesday, June 12, Monaco should secure the title prolongation with a win. If not, there will be a fifth match in Monaco to determine the champion.

It was clear that coach Sasa Obradovic’s side had something to make up for after Thursday’s home defeat, when Monaco lacked the right concentration and Paris came out on top with courageous play. This time, Monaco was very concentrated. In the early stages, the first strokes were for the Roca Team, but thanks to seven points in a row, Paris took the lead.

Mike James committed two fouls but then recovered nicely and made sure he had a bigger impact on the game than his opponent, TJ Shorts. After four minutes it was 8-8, but then the Roca Team took the initiative with French internationals Elie Okobo and Matthew Strazel as notable scorers. The latter made a three-pointer at the end of the first quarter at the buzzer, with the score standing at 14-28 after ten minutes.

Monaco didn’t take their foot off the gas pedal and ran even further away in the second quarter, while Paris struggled to finish off the chances. Mike James made it 21-38 with a three-pointer halfway through the quarter. Jordan Loyd also provided some costly points. In the end, it was 35-46 halfway through the game.

To the extent that there was any tension and perhaps hope among the Parisian crowd, it was stifled in the third quarter. In the first two minutes both teams didn’t score at all, and the home team needed another half a minute for its first score. In the end, Paris would only produce 10 points in this quarter. Monaco took advantage of it by running further away, thanks to Loyd, James, Strazel and Okobo who scored costly points. In the end, the scoreline stood at 45-64 after the third quarter.

The game was over before the fourth quarter, wherein both teams didn’t want to waste too much energy ahead of Wednesday’s match. Monaco still scored ten more points than the hosts, who will fight for their last chance on Wednesday. The final score was 59-88, much to the chagrin of the audience. Elie Okobo distinguished himself with a couple of three-pointers and was clearly the man of the match with 20 points.

Monaco’s Strazel, who also played very well, said afterwards: “It was important to win this match after Thursday’s defeat, and we reached our top level today and were able to make the difference because we started the game with the right aggressiveness and experience. In doing so, we made good use of our talents this time. We are still one win away from the league title and we have to be at least as good on Wednesday as we were tonight because I expect Paris to do everything they can not to lose.”

Featured image courtesy of @ASMonaco_Basket