Strasbourg is definitely trying to re-write French basketball's recent history with a truly historical season. The team started the competition in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague and was just one win away from becoming the first French team to make it to the Top 16 since 2007. Its wins against three eventual playoffs teams - Real Madrid, Fenerbahce Istanbul and Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade - did not go unnoticed. Once in the Eurocup, Strasbourg has also found unprecedented success in the competition, going all the way to the Finals, something that no other French team had even been close to. Head coach Vincent Collet has relied on a core of players like Louis Campbell, Matt Howard, Bangaly Fofana, Romain Duport and Jeremy Leloup, who have been playing together for years, adding Mardy Collins, Kyle Weems and Rodrigue Beaubois into the fold to go the extra mile as a team. This chemistry has worked and has paid off really well until now.
Basketball experts say that staying strong at home is mandatory for a team to have success, especially in do-or-die games. Well, Strasbourg is proving them wrong by doing exactly the opposite. Strasbourg has reached the Eurocup Finals without winning one single home game - two losses, one tie - in the elimination rounds, but has been extremely competitive on the road, winning 5 of its 6 games outside Rhenus Sport so far -. The only loss came against Avtodor Saratov once the team had sealed its ticket to the eighthfinals. Strasbourg registered a two-point home loss against EWE Baskets Oldenburg in Game 1 of the eighthfinals, but bounced back with a no-doubt-about-it 64-93 road win. The team also beat Nizhny Novgorod 85-94 in Russia and rallied from a six-point Game 1 deficit in the semifinals against Dolomiti Energia Trento with a 78-86 road triumph. Galatasaray is 10-1 at home and Strasbourg is 5-1 on the road, so it is safe to say that the series will most probably come down to Game 2.
If there is anything you can say about Strasbourg is that a lot of players can be dangerous. Everyone in its regular nine-men rotation scored in double digits throughout the last six games, played in the two-way series format. In other words, any Strasbourg player can step up and have a big night. Beaubois had 17 points in Game 1 of the eighthfinals against Oldenburg, with Lacombe getting 14. Strasbourg had 5 players in double digits in Game 2 of that series, led by Collins and Beaubois, who had 16 apiece. Collins had 24 points and Duport added 18 in Strasbourg's big road win against Nizhny Novgorod. It was a different player, Weems, who took Strasbourg past the quarterfinals, scoring 35 points. Once in the semifinals, Fofana stepped up with 15 points and 10 rebounds in Game 1 against Trento. Strasbourg finally advanced to the finals with a big win at Trento in Game 2 in which Duport and Collins each had 20 points. Strasbourg has definitely excelled at finding the right man at the right time.