Author of a convincing first few games in the Top 16, the Roca Team might have thought that qualifying for the quarter-finals of EuroCup was a sure thing. But their recent defeat of against Partizan Belgrade is a reminder that everything can change course very quickly at this high level of play.

The curse weighing this season on Monegasque sport has struck again! Like their football counterparts, AS Monaco’s basketball players were unable to follow up two good performances with a crucial third. Some internal assessment is needed after the defeat at home on Tuesday against Partizan Belgrade (68-71), just one week after a very promising away victory against the same team.

Importance of beating the goal-average

The only point of satisfaction for the Roca Team is that they managed to surpass the Top 16’s standing goal-average differential. Those points could be crucial in the standings in helping the team qualify for the quarterfinals. The Roca Team can thank Paul Lacombe for standing above the rest (23 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists), and Sergii Gladyr who played the role of savior. Monaco was down by 9 points two minutes from the end (59-68), especially because of an untenable Alex Renfroe (20 points, 6 rebounds), when the latest Monegasque recruit caused a foul at 4 seconds from buzzer and scored the three free throws limiting the severity of the loss.

“What I prefer to remember tonight is that by keeping the goal-average, we still control our destiny. We are not dependent on other teams’ results, which is vital, “said Oleksiy Yefimov, Monaco’s director, after the match.

Despite a good opening phase of Top 16  play (2 wins in 3 games), this loss will not make it any less difficult for Monaco for the rest of the competition. Sasa Filipovski’s are practically obliged to beat Alba Berlin at home next week before their last trip to Vilnius. The Germans, winners over the Lithuanians (87-85) last night, took the lead at the head of the pool.

*Originally published on the French edition of the Monaco Tribune.