Sašo Filipovski’s team show mental fortitude in second half to win 75-63 overall

AS Monaco Basket put in an excellent defensive performance to overcome Nanterre 92 in the fourth fixture of the Jeep Elite league. With both teams deadlocked at half time, Monaco turned on the style – but didn’t forego solidarity at the back – to emerge with a well-deserved 75-63 victory. The result means they now have two wins and two defeats from four matches and provides them with a springboard for the midweek clash against Red Star Belgrade in the EuroCup.

Nanterre coach Pascal Donnadieu had called for his team to balance their trademark attacking verve with a more robust backline prior to the match. While the latter failed to materialise (particularly in the latter stages), the former was on show in spades early on. Nanterre caught their opponents cold and quickly opened up a 22-15 lead after the first quarter, which was momentarily extended to 29-17 in the second. That dominance came largely as a result of impeccable shooting from range as the team converted seven from a possible 11 three-pointers before the half-time break.

However, Monaco showed they were no pushovers in the second half of the second period and fought back to take the quarter 22-15 – the exact same margin as Nanterre had managed in the first quarter, leaving things all square going in to the interval. Now Monaco managed to step things up defensively, winning 41 rebounds to Nanterre’s 25 over the course of the whole match. At the other end, Yakuba Ouattara ran amok, scoring four of six three-pointers and three of four two-pointers for an overall game high of 18 points. Credit must go to Derek Needham (13 points) and Paul Lacombe (10 points) for their ample support, as well.

As for Nanterre, Lahaou Konate did his best to keep them in the contest single-handedly, scoring 14 points on his own, but collectively the team could only muster a paltry 26 points to Monaco’s 38 in the second half. Given that they are still without key player Demetrius Treadwell, and given that another of their better players Dominic Waters was kept quiet throughout the match (scoring just eight points and missing five of his six two-point attempts), it’s unsurprising that they came out second best to Monaco’s resurgent defensive display.

The result balances up Monaco’s Jeep Elite season so far, after two losses in their first three games had threatened to deflate the reigning champions’ momentum. Buoyed by the success in their first ever EuroCup game last week against fellow new boys Brescia, Monaco can now go into Wednesday’s head-to-head against Red Star Belgrade with real confidence. After that, they face a trip to Gravelines-Dunkerque with whom they are currently tied on points, while Nanterre have a daunting home fixture against the undefeated Dijon.