From nothing to the qualifiers, how Monaco became the bearer of the French basketball flag

Five years after Kylian Mbappe’s European ASM saga, Monaco is back at the top of the European scene. Important small detail: the ball turned orange. To rock the rock, it is now necessary to move to the Gaston-Médecin room and the Monegasque basketball team, the Euroleague qualifiers. Continental summit David Cosette, the iconic voice of French basketball and now on microphone Monaco Info, had no hope of reclaiming by the end of his career as a commentator.

“I lived many years with French teams that won three or four games a season and were 20 points behind in the first half when they played away… It hurt a little bit. Inevitably, when a regular season team finishes in seventh place with a positive winning percentage (15 against 13 losses) and suspended matches against the best European teams such as Barcelona or Real, smiling again.

Dyadechko, the Ukrainian who saved Monaco

Another curiosity lies in the fact that the salvation of French basketball comes precisely from the Monaco team. Ten years ago, the club was pulled out of the swamps by Ukrainian businessman Sergei Diadeshko, when he finally got out of National 2 after years of touring at that level. marriage of convenience. Dyadechko had just survived 26 rounds of shooting at his Mercedes in an assassination attempt punctuated by a financial scandal in which he was implicated in Ukraine. On the advice of Sergei Bubka, Diadeshko joined Monaco. The rest is his money and his allure for basketball.

“He was so passionate that after pro training we saw him with his sporty mane and ball come in and shoot and smile Cosette. He was still the chief sponsor of the team… Only someone so passionate could hold such a crazy dream.”

Crazy enough not to hesitate for a moment when, in 2014, the French basketball authorities ordered him to pay compensation to make up for financial differences with other Pro B teams that Roca had just joined. The last hurdle removed, the team returned to Pro A the following year, 14 years after it was left anonymous.

Mike James as Zlatan in Paris

Money helped of course. You can’t take Mike James out of the Brooklyn Nets with a simple math project. Cosette: “We’re talking about a player who was the top scorer in the Euroleague, he’s not just a strong player in the Euroleague, he’s a superstar who reached high school. We didn’t even notice the entry of strong players because he drew attention. He’s a bit of Zlatan arriving at PSG.” »

Monegasques in the Ninth Cloud – Nikola Krestek / Shutterstock / SIPA

But you don’t build a team that can win the European Cup and dream of a Euroleague final just by putting the rounds on the table. “These people have experience with basketball in Ukraine [au BC Donetsk]They knew basketball perfectly and knew exactly what they had to do to get the club up the ladder,” says Ali Traore, former Monegasque and France international.

Experience is useful when everything is going downhill, like last winter, when the results were disappointing and the divorce occurred between the historic Monaco coach, Zvezdan Mitrovic and Mike James. In a final shove of inspirational management, management made the agonizing decision to split from the former and reappoint Sasa Obradovic in his stead. A healthy choice: Team Roca embark on a crazy streak, barely marred by elimination at the Coupe de France against Strasbourg. Traore:

“Obradovic came up with a very specific plan,” to “re-empower” the Superstars and prioritize the team. He made choices, some guys are barely playing and some are bosses now, like Mike James or Dwayne Bacon or Will Thomas. He worked hard to make it a team on and off the field. Live The team is currently doing very well, everyone knows their role and everyone is happy.”

“We are there because everyone has accepted their turn, emphasizes Yakuba Ouattara. It is a matter of sacrifice. On the individual level, we can do more, that is for sure. But we agree to put our egos aside for the sake of the collective.”

Team Roca has earned the respect of the greats

It remains to be seen if this new formula and the resulting state of grace will be enough to bring Olympiacos down on Wednesday in one of Europe’s hottest rooms. A small positive indication of the credibility of the hype in Monaco, it is rumored that in the high places, no one was too hot to engage the rookies in the quarter-finals of qualifying. It is no exaggeration to say that Monaco has earned the respect of the greats.

David Cosette concludes: “We felt it clearly when Monaco went to play in Barcelona. The room was full, which is not always the case there. The atmosphere, it was almost classic, we had a real impression that Real Madrid was the opposite. We took it as a form of respect. The audience came because they knew Monaco had become a very good team.” The best of the rock.

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