AS Monaco will compete in the 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 for the third season running after finishing third in Group C. Now it looks to at least match last season by reaching the quarterfinals, too.
Monaco had a great start to the competition in downing MoraBanc Andorra 76-82 in the season opener. Dee Bost led the way with 21 points and Khadeem Carrington added 14. Monaco went on to comfortable wins against Lietkabelis Panevezys and Telenet Giants Antwerp for a 3-0 start. A season-ending injury to Khadeen Carrington hurt the Monaco attack and the team lost its next two games. However, Monaco was victorious in its key games on the road against Lietkabelis and Antwerp to stay in the driver's seat throughout the regular season and eventually rank third in its group with a 5-5 record.
Three players - Marcos Knight, Dee Bost and Mathias Lessort - have stood out so far, but Bost has been Monaco's leader and floor general. At age 31, Bost is at the prime of his career and is proving it with personal-best numbers in the competition, averaging 15.9 points on 42.9% three-point shooting and 4.5 assists in eight games. He was particularly efficient in Monaco's opening three-game winning streak, in which he averaged 20.0 points on 54.5% three-point shooting and 5.0 assists. His leadership and character should be needed if Monaco wants to go deep in the competition.
When Carrington was hurt, Monaco signed Rob Gray away from Boulougne Metropolitans 92. Due to playing four regular-season games with Metropolitans, Gray was not eligible to play again in the EuroCup until the Top 16. The creative, undersized shooting guard with unlimited range is now eligible and he gives Coach Zvezdan Mitrovic another reliable scoring option. He already averaged 14.5 points on 6-of-10 three-point shooting in 18 minutes per game with Metropolitans. Gray is not the classic Top 16 reinforcement, as he has been practicing and playing with the team for months, so expect him to be ready to contribute right away.
Did you know?
Monaco has made it to the Top 16 in each of its three appearances in the competition. In the 2018-19 campaign, Monaco was first in its regular season group with a 7-3 record, but did not get out of the Top 16 after losing a do-or-die game against Rytas Vilnius in Round 6. Last season, Monaco was also third in its regular season group (6-4) and finished first in the Top 16 (4-2) to earn home-court advantage in a quarterfinals series against Virtus Segafredo Bologna. However, the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Monaco did now get its chance to go any further.
Logistically, Monaco has a comfortable group, with short trips in Western Europe. On the court, however, things will be difficult. Unicaja Malaga is one of the top candidates to win the 2020-21 EuroCup while Nanterre 92 is a team that knows Monaco - and both teams will also face each other in French League action during the Top 16. Finally, Joventut Badalona has lost only once at home in the last two EuroCup seasons and is 7-2 against French squads in EuroCup action. Just like last season, Monaco needs to step up to be at its best against stronger teams to challenge for a quarterfinals berth.