Monaco blows out host Nanterre by 28
AS Monaco ruled a duel of French League teams when it dominated a 65-93 decision over host Nanterre 92 on Tuesday to open the Top 16 in Group E. A 28-point road win in a short, six-game group could prove as good as gold for Monaco eventually, and the visitors did it with defense and physicality from the start, limiting Nanterre to 29 first-half points that pretty much decided the game. Marcus Knight was Monaco's high scorer with 20 points, while Rob Gray had 19. Damien Inglis added 11, J.J. O'Brien and Wilfried Yeguete 10 each, the latter with 10 rebounds, too, for a double-double. Nanterre got 14 points from Brian Conklin, 13 from Chris Warren and 12 from Isaia Cordinier, but suffered from 6-for-20 three-point and 9-for-19 free-throw shooting.
Knight and Lessort scored in close for an early 2-8 Monaco lead. Warren hit the game's first triple for Nanterre, but Mathias Lessort finished a break and Dee Bost scored at the rim, too, for a 5-12 score. Conklin's 4 points steadied the hosts before Knight and O'Brien kept Monaco safe at 9-18. Damien Bouquet generated 5 much-needed points for Nanterre, but Yeguete's three-point play meant a 14-21 Monaco lead after 10 minutes. O'Brien and Yeguete extended the difference to double digits and Gray rattled off back-to-back three- and four-point plays to suddenly boost the lead to 21-37. Monaco's physical play at both ends dictated the game until Cordinier detonated back-to-back tomahawk dunks at 27-41. Gray responded from deep, however, and Monaco pulled into halftime fully in charge at 29-46.
Warren's triple off a steal by Bouquet, Conklin's layup, and triple by Cordinier lifted Nanterre's spirits and cut the difference to single digits, 37-46, to start the second half. Monaco hit back with consecutive triples from Abdoulaye Ndoye and Dee Bost. Tyler Stone and Cordinier kept Nanterre in the same deficit range until Gray and Knight hit sweet back-to-back threes, as well, to make it 48-64. O'Brien and Yeguete relentlessly pushed the lead to 49-69 after 30 minutes. Monaco kept the difference in mind, raising it to 54-84 midway through in the fourth quarter behind Knight and Inglis, and kept it going to the finish.
Monaco's intensity from the tipoff to the final buzzer, even when the victory was well in hand early, had a good reason. Not only do only two teams advance from each four-team Top 16 group, but a ranking among all 16 teams at the end of the phase determines home-court advantage in the playoffs, all the way to the finals. A 28-point road win is as valuable as they come, not only in Group E, but in the ranking that comes for all teams at the end of the Top 16.
Monaco had a small advantage over Nanterre in rebounds coming into the game, with averages of 36.8 to 35.3, respectively, in the regular season. In this game, they were never close, as Monaco won the battle of the boards 39-26 overall, with the entire difference coming on the defensive glass since each team pulled 12 offensive rebounds. Wilfried Yeguete with 10 and Damien Inglis with 9 rebounds led the charge.
Monaco was the much more aggressive team, especially when in possession of the ball. The visitors drew 18 first-half fouls, more than double Nanterre's, which converted into a 6-17 advantage in free throws attempted and a 2-12 difference in makes.
In his first EuroCup game with Monaco after coming over from another Top 16 team, Boulogne Metropolitans 92, Rob Gray delivered with a strong overall performance of 19 points and 3 assists for a PIR of 15 in 19 minutes. The player he replaced, Nikola Rebic, had it tougher for Nanterre with just 4 points to go with 4 turnovers in his new team's loss.
Both teams return next week for Top 16 Round 2, with Monaco playing host to Unicaja Malaga (0-1) on Tuesday, January 19, and Nanterre visiting Joventut Badalona (1-0) the next night.
Thursday, January 14, 2021