AS Monaco Basket held its traditional pre-season press conference this Thursday in the atrium of the Monte Carlo Casino. The occasion for Oleksiy Yefimov, Zvezdan Mitrovic, Léo Westermann and Mike James to talk about Roca Team’s ambitions this season. A season that promises to be exciting, only a few months after the Eurocup was won by AS Monaco Basket.
Salle Gaston-Médecin renovated… and authorised for the Euroleague!
The news broke this Wednesday. After long weeks of uncertainty, AS Monaco Basket can finally breathe a sigh of relief. The Euroleague bodies have indeed granted an exception to the club of the Principality so that it can play its Euroleague games in its Gaston-Médecin arena. Oleksiy Yefimov, the club’s executive director, was delighted. “All the efforts made over the last few seasons were aimed at bringing AS Monaco Basket to the highest level of European basketball. I am therefore very grateful to H.S.H. Prince Albert II and the Government for all the efforts made to allow us to play in our arena”.
With a minimum of 5,000 seats required to play in the competition, AS Monaco Basket almost had to play its home games at the Azur Arena in Antibes. But thanks to the work carried out this summer, which allowed the capacity of the venue to be increased to 4,090 seats, in addition to numerous renovations (lighting, flooring, seats, VIP areas, etc.), the Roca Team’s directors finally prevailed. A first victory for ASM Basketball, which will open its season in its homeland on Thursday 30 September, on the first day of the Euroleague against Panathinaikos Athens.
Fantastic recruitment with the arrival of top players
His arrival has caused a real shock. The 31-year-old American point guard Mike James has decided to move to the Rock to continue his career. “I think the team has great potential,” he told a press conference. It’s a new start for me in a very ambitious team”. With a flattering reputation, the top scorer of the 2018-2019 Euroleague season played last season in the Brooklyn Nets (NBA), alongside the star trio Kyrie Irving-James Harden-Kevin Durant. An impressive CV, which comes on top of the other major recruits who arrived in Monaco during the summer.
Donta Hall (23, ex-Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons) and Donatas Motiejunas (30, ex-Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs), who have also played in the prestigious North American league, have arrived to further strengthen the Roca Team’s squad, whilst Frenchman Léo Westermann (29, FC Barcelona) has arrived from the prestigious Catalan club determined to shine on the Rock.
To these prestigious names should be added those of Jerry Boutsiele (29, Limoges) and Danilo Andjusic (30, Bourg-en-Bresse), solid references in the French championship, as well as the American Paris Lee (26, Orléans) and the Australian Brock Motum (30, Nanterre). Also of note is the return of Yakuba Ouattara (29, Betis Seville) who returns to the Principality after a short spell in Spain, and the arrivals of Alpha Diallo (24, Lavrio BC) and Armel Traoté (18, INSEP).
A team fit to win the French championship
Finalists in the French championship in 2018 and 2019, the Roca Team intends to finally win the title. As early as this season? Three times winner of the Leaders Cup (2016, 2017, 2018) and just recently winner of the Eurocup, AS Monaco Basket is getting ready to compete this season in the Euroleague for the first time in its history. But the priority for Zvezdan Mitrovic’s men this season is indeed national. “We have very good players in the squad, but the key will be to find a good chemistry,” said the Monaco coach. That’s what we have achieved in previous seasons”.
Eliminated in the semi-finals last season, the Monegasques have the ambition to dethrone ASVEL, winner of the last two titles in 2020-2021 and 2018-2019 (the 2019-2020 season did not finish). Lyon-Villeurbanne is the favourite to succeed and has been strengthened by the arrival of Youssoupha Fall, Victor Wembanyama, Elie Okobo and Kostas Antetokounmpo. This season, AS Monaco Basket seems more than ever to be cut out for the title.