By Stefan Djordjevic / email@example.com
AS Monaco Basket was up in double-digits (13-2), then down in double-digits (55-45) but in the end managed to come out on top in the close finish against UNICS Kazan with 89-87 on the scoreboard in Game 1 of the 7DAYS EuroCup Finals.
The deciding offense by Monaco came in the last minute when the French team grabbed three offensive rebounds, all after missed three-pointers, and eventually got the points from Marcos Knight’s two free throws (88-87).
UNICS couldn’t go through with their following play, turning the ball over and having to foul once again. Despite all that, Jordan Theodore still had a shot at the buzzer, going coast to coast, but didn’t make it fall.
Coach Zvezdan Mitrovic was quite happy post-game and is looking forward to Game 2.
“1-0. We are happy. We go to Kazan to play one more game. And that is all. I think both teams played with great energy, Maybe a couple offensive rebounds at the end of the game was the key factor in the end. We expect to go to Kazan to play in a gym with fans, with the public. It will be great. If you are going to play for a trophy, you need to find extra energy. It’s that simple.”
Rob Gray continued with great performances for AS Monaco and was crucial in their run to this win with 23 points. Mathias Lessort was also exceptional with 17 points and five boards despite a big challenge by the opposing Artem Klimenko.
“We ain’t done. We haven’t done anything. It’s a best of three-game, not one-game series. So we did good tonight, but we ain’t done,” Lessort said, reminding everyone that the series is far from over.
Klimenko was without a doubt the biggest surprise of the night. The 27-year-old UNICS center, who’s been averaging around five minutes of playing time so far in EuroCup this season, ended up being the primary weapon of the Russian team in the Finals Game 1.
The big man shot 9-10 from the field on his way to career-best 22 points while also grabbing five rebounds and doing a great job on Lessort defensively, especially in the fourth quarter, although coach Dimitris Priftis decided to bench him in the final moments for tactical reasons.