By Cesare Milanti /info@Eurohoops.net
KAUNAS, Lithuania – The third-place game doesn’t provide any thrills on a Final Four, and the 2023 version in Kaunas was no exception.
Monaco got the 78-64 win over Barcelona, which was occasionally booed by its own fans. Matthew Strazel with 14 points was the top scorer of the winners, Elie Okobo and Alpha Diallo added points each.
Monaco had a great start in the first quarter (24-13) and jumped to a 16 points halftime lead (44-28) despite shooting just 28% in threes.
The situation remained pretty much the same with Monaco being up by 15 (60-45) and in the end, got an easy win.
“I am proud of this group. We had an amazing season,” said the winning head coach Sasa Obradovic in the flash interview, “We made a great step on the basketball map.”
Nikola Mirotic with 13 points was the only scorer in double digits for the losing side.
Sarunas Jasikevicius and Sasa Obradovic sum up Final Four
Previously ruled out for the rest of the season, Cory Higgins (back) will not be back as the 2022-23 campaign comes to an end with the Playoffs at the domestic level. “The most positive thing is nobody got injured in this game,” mentioned Sarunas Jasikevicius after the third-place game in his hometown’s Zalgirio Arena.
“I thought we came out very sluggish. Obviously, we were very sad. There is no question, this game is a horrible game to play,” the Lithuanian tactician described the situation, “I think we played a pretty good second half. But the difference was huge and we couldn’t turn it around.”
“These games have their own specifics. It’s a one-game situation. A lot of nerves and pressure,” he added in the postgame press conference regarding the Final Four showing, “Probably, we didn’t find a way to deal with it in the best way possible. Our shape was good coming in. A lot of times as a player, you need to find better ways to deal with the pressure. As a coach, you need to find better ways to calm your team and try to help them out a little bit.”
Coming into the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four, his side clinched the top seed at the domestic level. The Catalonia club will play host to UCAM Murcia to wrap up Spain’s Liga Endesa Regular Season Wednesday before jumping into the Playoffs.
“Two wounded teams were playing. I think we were less hurt after the Semifinals. We really wanted this, because for us it was a new experience being in this event, this competition,” commented Obradovic in the Monaco portion of the postgame press conference, “This is the biggest achievement for me, in my career as a coach.”
On to the Playoffs of France’s Betclic Elite LNB Pro A, the La Roca Team also secured homecourt advantage throughout the postseason as the top seed. The Quarterfinals best-of-three series versus SIG Strasbourg tips off in Salle Gaston Médecin Wednesday.