For a second, the Salle Gaston-Médecin seemed frozen in a fragment of the past, all eyes riveted on the prayer of William Howard. Memories of the end of November resurfaced, Monegasque supporters seeing the ghosts of the end of the Zvezdan Mitrovic era dancing again, when the winger from Montbrison had crucified AS Monaco with an unprecedented buzzer beater in the EuroLeague. But that shot was much too difficult… At 25 meters, with only one second to play, the former Limougeaud had no chance. “Not this time”, exclaimed some, certainly relieved to understand that the Roca Team had never been so close to its first national crown.
“Everyone saw how badly we were beaten in Match 2,” laughed Dwayne Bacon a few minutes later at a press conference, with a big smile on his face. “It was the biggest defeat in the history of the finals, we took it to heart. “Obviously this somber performance, almost shameful, did not characterize the true level of the Roca Team, not mentally ready to undergo the onslaught of ASVEL after taking the advantage of the entry field. Sasa Obradovic’s men had almost abandoned the meeting, then imitated by their coach who caused his expulsion as the final buzzer approached. But since then, the men of the Principality have not been idle: the 72-hour interval has been used to correct the immense flaws of Friday, to review attitudes, to prepare a third episode which often acts as a seesaw. And the Monegasque team that came to take possession of its floor was really not the same as the one that left the Astroballe through the back door… “In terms of commitment and physical intensity, it was not the same on their side agreed TJ Parker.
38 minutes without scoring three points!
Once the sluggish start had been digested (16-21, 11th minute), “perhaps a backlash from Match 2” according to Sasa Obradovic, the Roca Team resumed the course of their final thanks to a model player of their season. Always concerned on both sides of the field, which was not a challenge this year at ASM, Paris Lee caused the spark in the second quarter. Author of 9 points in 7 minutes in the first period, including 3/3 from three points, the future leader of Panathinaikos Athens was the first to sink ASVEL’s head under water (37-27, 18th minute). But the Villeurbannais found some air after returning from the locker room thanks to a formidable sequence from Elie Okobo (49-48, 26th minute), author of eight points in a row, 25 units in total. “We need an Elijah at this level”, appreciated TJ Parker. “But we also need others a little more. The Villeurbannais technician was certainly thinking of Marcos Knight, author of a failed return to the Rock (4 points at 2/8 in 30 minutes), the clumsy William Howard (2 points at 1/5), Dylan Osetkowski and James Gist , much more inside compared to Friday. But above all, he missed a fundamental element at ASVEL: the external address.
The visitors had to wait 38 minutes to finally see a winning shot pierce the net. Before the first from Chris Jones (15 points at 6/12), the Rhodanians were stuck at 0/16, when the Roca Team pranced at 8/16… A monstrous differential, mitigated by their discipline (7 stray balls only) and their new victory in the rebound battle (30 takes to 28). “It’s played a little on the three points anyway”, smiled, yellow, TJ Parker. “In basketball, you have to put your shots and we did not put them. Finding yourself at 0/16 is difficult… But even with that, we had a chance of winning. “This is probably the greatest reason for satisfaction for Lyon-Villeurbanne, which will try to erase its few mood swings, with a handful of slumps, as short as they are costly, which prevented it from regaining control of the final. “Why be frustrated? The series is not over,” concluded the reigning French champion coach.
“A great promotion for French basketball”
If ASVEL was able, at times, to make the stops it needed to stem the Monegasque wave, Youssoupha Fall’s teammates (16 points at 7/9 and 5 rebounds) also paid for the formidable Monegasque talent. Upset by their sinking on Wednesday, the ASM leaders responded superbly: Dwayne Bacon annihilated Élie Okobo’s series with 7 consecutive points in isolation (56-48, 28th minute), Mike James made up for his lack of success by successful management (16 points at 5/17 and 10 assists) while Donatas Motiejunas and Will Thomas, respectively authors of 12 and 11 units, have repointed the tip of their noses in the racket. “Overall, we were solid,” applauded Sasa Obradovic. “At least we were much better than Friday. There was individual quality on both sides, this match was a great promotion for French basketball. “Especially since this third episode was disputed in front of an audience of personalities (Prince Albert, of course, but also the double NBA All-Star David Lee, the Olympic vice-champion Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, the actors Darko Peric and Paul Haggis, rapper Joey Starr)… Everyone was able to witness the giant step taken by the Roca Team in the quest for its first national crown. For the first time in its history, ASM leads 2-1 in a Betclic ELITE final. And this time, even William Howard’s desperate attempt could do nothing about it…
For a second, the Salle Gaston-Médecin seemed frozen in a fragment of the past, all eyes riveted on the prayer of William Howard. Memories of the end of November resurfaced, Monegasque supporters seeing the ghosts of the end of the Zvezdan Mitrovic era dancing again, when the winger from Montbrison had crucified AS Monaco with a bu…