EuroLeague showdown

Can the FCBB draw level with Monaco around Mike James?

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These three days will be tough: On Friday evening, the FC Bayern basketball team will first try to confirm its positive trend of the past weeks in the EuroLeague. Starting at 20:00 they will fight for their fourth success in the top division at AS Monaco Basket. It will be the first competitive game between the two teams in the small Salle Gaston Médecin hall with its approximately 4,000 seats, where ZSKA Moscow recently lost (97-80). From the Côte d'Azur, the Cup winners will travel directly to the important Cup game in Chemnitz: On Sunday evening (18:00 MagentaSport), a strong BBL rival awaits with the Niners in front of their home crowd for a do-or-die game for a coveted Top Four spot.

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Coach Trinchieri about the team from Monaco
"Monaco is super athletic, a very talented, really deep squad - plus Mike James. I'm therefore not surprised at all by their results so far, because they have everything, besides athleticism and depth, especially size. It will be a very difficult game, like every game in the EuroLeague - especially away."  

The next EuroLeague Double Week with home games against Fenerbahce Istanbul and Panathinaikos Athens next Tuesday and Thursday evening will be put to one side for the time being in view of the two important weekend dates. After three wins in a row and the near win against the favorites Real Madrid (80-76), the team of head coach Andrea Trinchieri could draw level with the eighth-placed Monegasques (4-4). The fact that defending the title in the cup competition is just as much a priority makes the tough road trip a major challenge. Trinchieri commented, "We're going from game to game, it doesn't make sense any other way."

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Sunday evening in Chemnitz for a Top Four spot

While ambitious playoff candidates Chemnitz (4-3, eighth in the standings) are preparing for the "game of the year" after their surprising 76-74 road win in Ludwigsburg, the FCBB first has to contain one of the outstanding EuroLeague scorers of recent years: Mike James. After his departure from ZSKA, Monaco promoted to the top flight via the 2021 EuroCup triumph, stunned the world in the summer by signing the coveted U.S. guard, who had put up 19.8, 21.1 and another 19.3 points per game in the previous three years for Milan and then in Moscow.

"Monaco is super athletic, a very talented, really deep squad - plus Mike James," Trinchieri said before leaving for Nice. "I'm therefore not surprised at all by their results so far, because they have everything, besides athleticism and depth, especially size. It will be a very difficult game, like every game in the EuroLeague - especially away."

In Monaco, Mike James has 13.5 points and 5.3 assists per game so far after eight game days, but the EuroLeague newcomer is not only made of of the 2018/2019 top scorer.

Experienced Serbian guard Danilo Andjusic (11.1 ppg, 42% threes), forward Dwayne Bacon (20/21: 10.9 ppg for the Orlando Magic) who came from the NBA, ex-NBA center Donatas Motiejunas (8.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg), forward Will Thomas (7 ppg) and French international Leo Westermann (6 ppg, 3.5 apg) have plenty of experience at the highest level. EuroLeague rookies Donta Hall (10.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Alpha Diallo (7.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg) add a lot of impact and athleticism to a very deep squad, which is especially evident in their rebounding strength (11.4 offensive rebounds per game). 

In the city-state on the Mediterranean coast, after the absence of the club from the beginning of the 1990s at the highest level, AS Monaco Basket has again been added to the top league. The former first division club returned to the first division in 2015, under Montenegrin coach Zvezdan Mitrovic - who has now been back on the bench since the start of the season. Winning the EuroCup was their biggest achievement since finishing runners-up in 1950 and national cup successes in 2016 and 2017.

"It's going to be an energetic duel, that's for sure, because it's a small, loud hall there," said FCBB forward Deshaun Thomas, who started his professional career in France with Nanterre (2013/14). "They play with a lot of pace and they have Mike James, who shoots fearlessly and with a lot of confidence. Against him, we all have to play physically together, not allow him easy shots. We have to be smart on defense overall, and rebounding will be a key."      

Last week, Monaco lost in the EuroLeague after a 38-35 half-time lead at Olympiakos but lost clearly 86-65. In the domestic Pro A, they are in third place with a record of 5:2 like Bayern in the BBL. Westermann has been stricken recently, and the FCBB is still missing Leon Radosevic, Zan Mark Sisko and Paul Zipser. 

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