Monaco outlasts Buducnost to win series
AS Monaco outlasted Buducnost VOLI Podgorica 90-87 in a thrilling Game 3 on Wednesday at Stade Louis II to reach the EuroCup Semifinals for the first time in club history. Mathias Lessort led the way with a career-best 24 points for Monaco in a game that wasn't decided until Buducnost's Danilo Nikolic missed from downtown in the closing seconds. J.J. O'Brien added 13 points, Marcos Knight tallied 12 points and a personal-best 12 rebounds and Dee Bost scored 11 for the winners, who will meet Herbalife Gran Canaria in the semifinals. Justin Cobbs paced the Buducnost attack with 17 points, Willie Reed scored 16 and Nikola Ivanovic, Amedeo Della Valle and Petar Popovic netted 11 points apiece.
Lessort scored the game's first two baskets and Reed's hook shot at the other end was ruled to be after the shot-clock buzzer. Bost free throws gave Monaco a 6-0 start, but Buducnost came back through Della Valle. Cobbs's free throws gave the visitors their first lead, 10-11, midway through the opening quarter. However, Della Valle was whistled for his third foul and took a seat on the bench. Reed helped keep Buducnost in front until Rob Gray's basket-plus-foul made it 18-17. Reed missed 5 free throws in just over 1 minute, while Wilfried Yeguete extended the Monaco lead. Ivanovic's three to end the quarter lifted Buducnost to a 22-23 advantage. Young Rudy Demahis knocked down a three to even things at 25-25 early in the second quarter. The score was still tied after Bost and Cobbs traded triples. Lessort's three-point play on the offensive glass pushed Monaco ahead, but Reed matched him to make it 35-33 midway through the quarter. Lessort continued to dominate with a jumper, a block, an offensive rebound and foul drawn, 2 free throws made and a steal. However, Buducnost refused to go away with a layup by Cobbs making it 44-42. Ivanovic free throws tied it, but Bost made 2 at the other end to give the hosts a 48-46 halftime cushion.
Melvin Ejim tied it with the first basket of the second half. Reed had a steal on one end and finished an alley-oop slam from Della Valle at the other as Buducnost moved in front 50-52. Lessort and Reed traded shots in the paint with a put-back by the former making it 58-56 midway through the third quarter. Della Valle, playing with 4 fouls, scored and made free throws following technical fouls on Lessort and Coach Zvezdan Mitrovic. Monaco led again after a put-back by Yeguete. Yeguete's next score extended the margin to 5 and after free throws by Ivanovic and Yeguete, the third quarter finished with 70-66 on the scoreboard. Buducnost held Monaco scoreless for the first 2 and a half minutes of the fourth quarter, during which Cobbs and Popovic drew Buducnost within 1. Zoran Nikolic powered his way to a go-ahead score inside and Cobbs collected a mid-court steal from Demahis for a 75-78 lead with 5 minutes to play. Knight, with free throws after another offensive rebound, tied the game at 80-80. A floater by Abdoulaye Ndoye and more foul shots by Knight, after Della Valle fouled out, made it 84-80 with 2:09 on the clock. After a bank shot by Cobbs, Lessort's layup-plus-foul sent Reed to the bench with 5 fouls. Monaco remained in control after O'Brien matched Ivanovic's free throws with another second-chance basket. Nikolic buried a three with 11.1 seconds left to bring Buducnost within 88-87. O'Brien extended the margin to 3 with free throws with 8.6 seconds on the clock and Nikolic missed a three to tie it in the final seconds.
The game can be summed up by the rebounding numbers. Monaco dominated the glass 46-25, including a club record 23 offensive rebounds. Buducnost had a mere 15 defensive boards. That led to 27 second-chance points for Monaco, compared to 10 for the visitors.
Mathias Lessort set a career-high with 24 points to lead Monaco. After missing the potential game-winner in the last second of Game 1, Lessort took charge in Game 3. He made a club record 10 free throws and also had 7 rebounds and 3 steals in massing a performance index rating of 29. He scored 8 points in the first quarter and 9 in the second. Though he slowed down in the second half, Lessort's layup-plus-foul in the penultimate minute sent Buducnost star Willie Reed to the bench with 5 fouls.
Did you know?
Monaco's victory ensured that there has never been a EuroCup best-of-three series in which the road team won all three games. That would have been the case had Buducnost prevailed.
Monaco will host Herbalife Gran Canaria in Game 1 of the EuroCup Semifinals on Tuesday, April 6. Buducnost's EuroCup campaign has come to an end and it will now focus its efforts on domestic competitions.
Wednesday, March 31, 2021