This Roca Team is amazing. After being 15 points behind in the heart of the third quarter, the whole team pulled in unison to catch up, and win by a single point after an incredibly suspenseful finish (89-88). In the end it was Captain Yakuba Ouattara who scored the winning basket for his team … just 4 seconds from time. Cholet is no longer undefeated at home, and Monaco stands alone in the lead this first leg of Betclic Elite with 14 wins and just 3 losses.
For this last match of the first leg of Betclic Elite, the Roca Team found themselves facing a Cholet formation unbeaten at home this season in all competitions (12 wins, 0 defeats). With the absences of Donta Hall and Jordan Loyd, Sasa Obradovic’s group was not at full strength . Lining up in the starting five are Mike James, Matthew Strazel, Jaron Blossomgame, John Brown and Yoan Makoundou.
The first quarter is of a very high level on both sides of the field. Outstanding for the Roca Team is Yoan Makoundou the former child of Cholet and Donatas Motiejunas. Both formations are skilful behind the arc and respond to each other. After a Q1 without the slightest time-out, the Roca Team is ahead by a short lead (26-24).
The start of the second quarter is clearly to the advantage of the locals who up their game. In transition Tillie the former Monegasque plants a dunk which forces Sasa Obradovic to take the first time-out of this game after 12 minutes of play. Cholet is now 4 points ahead (28-32).
Yakuba Ouattara’s teammates fall 9 points behind (28-37). The Roca Team seem too tentative and that’s what makes the difference. Cholet took the opportunity to create the biggest gap so far with a three-pointer from Campbell on transition play (32-43). The Monegasques find themselves down 11 points, pared to 10 points at the break (41-51).
Returning from the locker room, Sasa Obradovic made the choice to return to the field with Mike James, Yakuba Ouattara, Alpha Diallo, John Brown and Donatas Motiejunas. The start of the second half was just as delicate, with Monaco being suffocated by the Cholet defensive pressure. The locals keep a good lead of 12 points after three minutes in this Q3 (46-58). The major problem for the Roca Team is in defence failing to make defensive stops, and Cholet has a field day to create a little more of a gap by taking a 15-point lead (50-65). Sasa Obradovic takes a time-out to try to stop this madness that has taken hold of the Meilleraie.
It works. With an 11-2, the Roca Boys come back to 5 points and push Laurent Vila to take a time-out (65-70). At the beginning of the last ten minutes, Sasa Obradovic’s troops are only four points away (68-72).
Yakuba Ouattara caught fire and scored 7 points in quick succession to equalize (75-75). Yoan Makoundou even put the Roca Team in front for the first time since the very start of the second quarter (78-75). This ASM formation never gives up, and Yakuba Ouattara steals a ball to allow his teammates to have a 5-point lead (80-75). Laurent Vila is obliged to take the time-out after which the two teams are back to back (80-80). The last five minutes were played at boiling point, back and forth with the scoreboard level (85-85).
At the final critical juncture with Roca down (87-88) no more points are scored until the last possession which is for the Roca Team with 21 seconds on the clock. Sasa Obradovic takes a time-out to put a system in place. Mike James plays the shot very well by penetrating and serving Yakuba Ouattara in the corner who feigns the three-point shot to put himself in a good position. It’s a basket and an amazing result (89-88). 4 seconds to play with the ball for Cholet. The Roca Team defended very well and claims an outstanding win after a huge fight.