It took until the end of the end of a marathon season to decide between the two best French teams of the season. Saturday June 25, at the end of a decisive match five concluded by a final extension, Asvel Lyon-Villeurbanne got the better of Monaco (84-82 a.p.) to win the 21st title of champion of France in its history, the third in a row.
The scenes of joy at the final buzzer on the floor, where T.J. Parker was quickly joined by his big brother and president, Tony, symbolized the great deliverance felt by the Rhodaniens. “It was an incredible final, brilliant for French basketball, rejoiced the latter at the microphone of BeIn Sport, the cap bearing the image of the title already screwed on his head. It’s difficult to mark the history of sport and tonight we mark that of French basketball. »
The best French basketball player in history, president of the club since 2014, knows that his team is only the fourth to achieve a “three-peat” (three successive titles) in the French championship after Asvel (1955- 1957) and CSP Limoges twice (1983-1985 and 1988-1990).
Tony Parker also knows that this fourth coronation over the last six seasons (2016, 2019 and 2021, the 2020 season not having come to an end) was not the easiest to conquer as Monaco challenged him throughout throughout the season. The two teams had each won four head-to-head matches during the year.
Shaken by Monaco this season
A true locomotive of French basketball for several seasons, Asvel saw its domination challenged at the start of the exercise. AS Monaco, already defeated twice in the Pro A final in 2018 and 2019 (against Le Mans then Villeurbanne), had revised its ambitions upwards following its victory in the Eurocoupe (C2), qualifying it automatically in Euroleague (C1) where she brilliantly reached the quarter-finals.
If Asvel still had the best budget (15 million euros against 14.1 for Monaco), it no longer had the weight in terms of payroll (3.9 million euros against 6.7) thanks to the Royal recruitment of the Principality club, including one of the best players in Europe, Mike James. Two very distinct projects opposed each other: the accumulation of American talent for Monaco, a majority of renowned French players for Asvel.
This difference of vision reached its climax in this final. The Roca Team (nickname of Monaco) led the series twice and even had the opportunity to win, on Wednesday at home, the first French championship title in its almost century-old history (founded in 1924). But as in match two, the Monegasques had played without conviction, multiplying the individual options.
On Saturday, the series was no exception to the rule. Asvel relied on its Tricolores to put ASM on the mat. If the MVP of the finals Elie Okobo (20 points) missed the free throw of the victory less than two seconds from regulation time (75-75, 40th) after an acrobatic basket, he was assisted by William Howard (15 points ). The winger planted two award-winning baskets in overtime before succeeding in the decisive counter on Paris Lee (8 points) who spun to the basket 15 seconds from the end of overtime (83-82, 45th). Well imitated a few seconds later by Marcos Knight who deprived Dwayne Bacon of one last ammunition.
“It was a big game, we expected a close game, analyzed Howard at the end of the match. It’s great fun. You should never let go in a match like this, it’s the one who lets go first who loses. »
Villeurbanne had struck first in this epilogue. In the wake of their landslide victory in game four (85-68), ASVEL started with their feet to the ground to ignite an already suffocating Astroballe. Thanks to the 17 points of the trio made up of French internationals Elie Okobo and Youssoupha Fall (14 points in total) as well as the former Monegasque Marcos Knight (8 points), the Rhodaniens flew away in the first quarter (26-13 ).
Mike James brings thrills to the Astroballe
Meanwhile, the Roca Team was lost in individual solutions. Mike James, Dwayne Bacon and Paris Lee had a poor 3/19 in shooting at the break, where their team was trailing by ten points (43-33).
But the ASM nibbled away, even returning to equality just before the end of the third act (53-53, 30th). It was then the moment chosen by Mike James (16 points) to come out of his torpor. Thanks to eight points scored in less than two minutes at the start of the fourth quarter, the American leader completely cooled the 5,500 Villeurbanne supporters, well relayed by Dwayne Bacon (60-68, 36th).
At the end of the match where each team will have had its title ball, Monaco failed to conclude like Alpha Diallo (14 points) on the free throw line in the last minute of regulation time.
“You have to work to know how to win this type of end of the match, analyzed the Monegasque coach Sasa Obradovic in a press conference. It’s a whole bunch of little things that make tonight we don’t win. We must congratulate Asvel who deserves to win the title and all the management of this club, its organization, and everything they do for French basketball. We will look to the future and we will build the team tomorrow. »
With the objective, again and again, of breaking Villeurbanne’s hegemony over tricolor basketball.