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Historic Euroleague Final Four for AS Monaco

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Prince Albert II and Aleksej Fedoricsev celebrated the Roca Team's with the players and staff at the end of the game (Photo © Euroleague)

It is the best performance by a French club since 1997.

The score: 97-86

In a Gaston-Médecin sports hall that was at boiling point and with Prince Albert II, Aleksej Fedoricsev and all the Principality’s ministers looking on, Sasa Obradovic’s men grabbed the grail after a heart-stopper of a final leg from start to finish.

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Clumsy and over-passive in defence during the first quarter, the Monegasques conceded over thirty points, but managed to come back into the game at the beginning of the second quarter by chalking up a scathing 15-0 against their opponents, led by Mike James, who was stunning in the first half but absent after the break (21 points in total).

Four minutes of pure madness that still didn’t allow the Roca Boys to break away. A number of cheeky three-pointers by Maccabi Tel Aviv (14/29), meant they were still in contention at the half-way point (53-49). After the break, the visitors continued to shoot from long range, with an on-form Wade Baldwin IV scoring 27 points.

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With Mike James in trouble, it was Jordan Loyd who took control of the game in the final quarter (see below), allowing the Roca Team to come back from behind (74-77), then to pull away at the end of the game.

With a lead of nine points, then eleven, Yakuba Ouattara (9 points) and his team mates celebrated their historic qualification for the Final Four with a few seconds left, at which point Gaston-Médecin went wild.

AS Monaco join Olympiakos, FC Barcelona and Partizan Belgrade in the last four of the competition, which will be played between 19 and 21 May in Kaunas, Lithuania. Monaco will face Olympiakos in the first semi-final. Out for revenge for last season ?

Man of the Match: Jordan Loyd, dazzling in the 4th quarter

Keeping his nerve from the free-throw line, despite heckling from the Israeli fans in the Gaston-Médecin stands, the American guard netted two throws after scoring a magical three-pointer to give his team a four-point lead (83-79).

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Jordan Loyd and the Roca Boys will compete in the competition’s Final Four – © Communication Department/Stephane Danna

Seconds later, Jordan Loyd was at it again, this time scoring all three of his free throws following another foul on the player from Chicago during a three-point shot. With eight points in a row, Jordan Loyd carried the Roca Team through the end of the game, playing an important role in his team’s qualification.

The number: 26

Which is the number of years since a French team made it into the Euroleague Final Four, in 1997.

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The quotes: “This is a historic night for us”

Sasa Obradovic, at the press conference: “I can’t express how happy I am today, because it’s been very emotionally draining. It was a historic night for me, for Monaco and for most of the players. French basketball has been waiting for this moment for so long. We deserve this kind of reward.”

Prince Albert II, speaking to Skweek: “It’s fabulous to qualify for the Final Four. It was a great game, of great intensity, between two great teams. This is extraordinary for Monegasque sport and the Principality in general. I am proud of the club, which a few years ago was several rungs down the ladder. We can certainly dream (of the title – Ed.), but it will be very difficult. We have to believe it’s possible, right to the end.”

The exploit: From N1 to the Final Four in just 10 years

Just think about it. From National division 1 in 2013 to the Euroleague Final Four in 2023. Picking up a Eurocup title in 2021 and a French Cup just a few weeks ago on the way.

In the space of a decade, first with Ukrainian businessman Sergey Dyadechko and now with Aleksej Fedoricsev, the Roca Team has been on an upward curve that is almost unparalleled in any sport.

An extraordinary performance that was pointed out by all those involved in French basketball, and in particular all the Betclic Elite clubs, as they congratulated Monaco on the qualification via their social networks.

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From now on, AS Monaco Basket has even bigger dreams. With a budget of €14.7 million, compared to €44 million for Real Madrid and €43.5 million for Barcelona, Sasa Obradovic’s men are looking to be the Davids that slay the Final Four’s Goliaths.

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