AS Monaco Basketball’s journey to the top echelons of European basketball has been nothing short of a fairy tale. The principality’s team, which has been a rising star since 2018, reached a new milestone on Thursday by securing a spot at the 2023 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four. This impressive feat was achieved through a decisive victory in Game 5, clinching the best-of-five playoff series against Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv.
A Rapid Rise to Prominence
Considering that AS Monaco had no presence in the EuroCup before 2018, their progression is quite extraordinary. In just their third season in the EuroCup, they emerged victorious, and now find themselves potentially two victories away from clinching the continental crown. This remarkable achievement speaks volumes about the team’s talent and determination.
Upon reaching the Final Four, AS Monaco will lock horns with top-seed Olympiacos Piraeus in the semifinals. The showdown, set to take place in Kaunas, Lithuania, promises to be a thrilling encounter.
The Road to Glory
AS Monaco’s consistency throughout the season played a crucial role in their playoff qualification. With five victories in their first six games, including wins against the outgoing champion Anadolu Efes Istanbul and Olympiacos, they set a high bar early on. Despite stumbling twice with consecutive losses, the team’s resolve remained undeterred, ultimately finishing the regular season in fourth place with a 21-13 record.
Monaco’s playoff journey had a rocky start with a 67-79 loss to Maccabi in the series opener, surrendering the home-court advantage. However, the club bounced back in the second game, registering an 86-74 victory, largely attributable to Jordan Loyd’s 33-point performance.
Navigating Through the Playoffs
The team, fondly known as the “Roca Team,” regained the home-court advantage with a 78-83 victory in Game 3, leading from the start and resisting Maccabi’s comeback attempts. Maccabi responded in Game 4 with a dominating performance, leading to a 104-69 victory.
However, in the decisive Game 5, Monaco’s experience and resilience shone through. Jordan Loyd’s 8 consecutive points helped overturn a one-point deficit with less than 4 minutes remaining, securing a 97-86 victory.
A Homecoming for Motiejunas
The upcoming Final Four in Kaunas will hold special significance for Monaco’s center Donatas Motiejunas. A native of Kaunas, Motiejunas began his professional journey with Zalgiris and has since traveled through Italy, Poland, the NBA, and China. This season marks his second with Monaco, and the homecoming will undoubtedly be a memorable one.
Carrying the Weight of Experience
Mike James, Monaco’s star guard, holds the unique distinction of being the only player on the roster with Final Four experience. James previously reached the Final Four with Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in Berlin in 2016. His experience could prove instrumental in the upcoming games.
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Monaco’s journey to the Final Four makes them the third team from the French League to achieve this feat, and the first in over 25 years. The last French club to make it this far was ASVEL Villeurbanne in Rome in 1997. The only other French club to reach the Final Four was Limoges CSP, which won the 1993 crown in Piraeus.
AS Monaco’s journey to the Final Four of the EuroLeague is a tale of perseverance, talent, and relentless determination. The upcoming games in Kaunas promise to be a thrilling spectacle as Monaco continues its pursuit of the coveted continental crown.
A Blend of Youth and Experience
The team’s blend of youth and experience has played a significant role in their journey so far. Coach Sasa Obradovic, a seasoned professional, has adeptly guided his squad through the challenges of the season, ensuring they remained focused and consistent throughout.
Under Obradovic’s guidance, players like Jordan Loyd and Mike James have flourished, demonstrating exceptional performances in crucial games. Loyd’s 33 points in the second playoff game and his crucial role in the decisive Game 5 exemplify his enormous contribution to the team. Similarly, James’ 18 first-half points in Game 3 helped set the tone for Monaco’s victory.
While the journey so far has been noteworthy, the real challenge lies ahead. Monaco’s opponents in the semifinals, top-seed Olympiacos Piraeus, promise to be a formidable adversary. The team’s resolve and character will be tested as they aim to continue their fairytale run in the tournament.
AS Monaco’s journey to the Final Four, from their humble beginnings in 2018 to standing on the brink of potential EuroLeague glory, is an inspiring story of determination, teamwork, and resilience. It is a testament to the timeless adage that with hard work and a never-say-die attitude, success is within reach.
As the team heads to Kaunas, they carry with them not just the hopes of their club, but also the expectations of French basketball enthusiasts. It’s not just about the glory of the win; it’s about etching their name in the annals of French and European basketball history. As they prepare for the pinnacle event of European basketball, one can’t help but admire their journey and anticipate the thrilling encounters that lie ahead.
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