“I want to do season 20 and leave”

Le Portel (16th) takes on Nanterre (8th) on Tuesday evening. For both teams, the objective of this meeting is very important: the locals must win as they fight for preservation, while Pascal Donnadier’s men want to stay in the top 8 while the competition is tough. The Porteloys are also looking to recuperate at home after losing to Gravelines-Dunkirk during the Opalico.

It is in this tense context Johan Passav-Duteil (1.98m, 36) must do whatever it takes to help ESSM in her quest to stay in the elite. The center was the champion Pro B (2011), then Pro A (2013) with JSF Nanterre. Torn between the emotions of meeting his former coach and the spirit of competition, Johan Passav-Ducteil has clearly chosen his side. Showing that this will likely be his penultimate return to Maurice Thorez, who is looking forward to his 20th and final season at Betclic ELITE before stopping.

Le Portel, in 16th place and the first not to be eliminated, is in a full service race. You follow up on a disappointing loss to BCM – with 111 points conceded in particular – while you had a good period. Group ready to react on Tuesday against Nanterre?

2 months ago we were limited as hell until little has changed in the sense that our destiny is still in our hands. I think the band is pretty strong and we managed to play a lot of gigs. So yes, we lost against the Gravelines, but I honestly think that the Gravelines set up their roster well and that they do have quality players. That is what mattered in both matches. As for us, we sometimes pay for our indiscipline, but, on the other hand, we also had a reconfiguration of personnel. We had to include players, so I don’t think we’re not that bad after all at the moment.

“We have 4 wins in 5 matches with regret”

During the Opalico, you lost by conceding 42 points at home in the last quarter. However, protection is always your strength. How to explain such an end of the match?

So it stings when I hear you say that again, especially after the gig we did. To think that we scored 42 points is unbelievable. Obviously, without blaming anyone, I think this is not normal. But I can’t talk about professional misdeeds, because we fought, but were too permissive. Maybe I should have been more aggressive, tougher, I don’t know, but it’s just not normal to score so many points at home like this. We must not forget that if they were so angry, it was because last year we gave them 120 points and they just equalized, for me it is 2-2 goals in the center. I made 4 Opalicos, of course, these are memorable matches, but we must not forget that last year we spanked them back and forth (89-65, then 73-63), they just equalized there. At home, we acted like PSG in football, we all took each other’s hands, we ran, and then we lifted them in front of their audience (behind closed doors, sic), it made them very angry.


Famous celebration last year at Sportica
(photo: ESSM Le Portel)

However, Le Portel had a good run at the beginning of the year, especially with 4 wins in 5 matches. What was the trigger? What will Eric Girard’s return to management bring to you?

Of course, he has his own know-how, this is his club, but I do not teach this to anyone. You have two people who integrate this personality, and he brought his method. I’m very upset because Serge Crevecker, he has the same record as him, but ultimately if you look at the teams that beat us, you will see that they are only in the top 8 teams, so it was it’s hard to balance even compared to him. But I am sure that Eric brought a lot of advice and his rigor. He has been coaching for 30 years, so he has some experience. And then he knows this club so well. How did the face change to earn 4 wins in 5 games? Frankly, it was the efforts of the entire team. First, we still put in a lot of physical effort, which really took us to the limit, and then we have a group that wants to win and wants to get out of it, so we refused. We managed to have an exceptional February with 4 wins in 5 matches knowing that we could also take Strasbourg. If we managed to take Levallois behind, it would be incredible, but we have 4 wins in 5 matches with regret.

“My daughter was even a mascot in Nanterre! »

On Tuesday you will face your former club Nanterre, who were defeated after extra time against Paris. How do you like the Nanterre team this season?

There is a statistic that struck me: this is the team that makes the fewest three-pointers this season. I was quite impressed, and suddenly that might explain a bit why they’re a bit overdone. But at the same time, I tell myself that it was such an identity for this club that it suddenly became hard for me to believe it. Now the truth about the statistics and what will actually happen in the game is different. I know the philosophy of the club well.

Their racket is very strong, especially with Chris Horton, Luke Fischer, Tom Wimbush inside… It’s a big challenge for you, isn’t it? What are the strengths of your opponents?

I know that they will come as conquerors and we must become stronger. The strength of my opponents is that one has the potential of an MVP candidate (Wimbush) and he is sky-high, this will be a real challenge for us. You have to reduce its influence and I think it is an explosive 3/4 position and very good quality. Pascal (Donnadieu) often has such good picks as Luke Fisher, without forgetting Chris Horton. It really shows the quality of Nanterre’s potential in the domestic sector, they are also very strong in the outer sector, so we need to be strong and improve the level of play in all positions.

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Passav-Ducteil is averaging 8 points on 51% and 3 rebounds in 16 minutes.
(photo: ESSM Le Portel)

Is the game against Nanterre still special for you? Are you still in contact with Pascal Donnadier? What do you think about the evolution of the club since your time there?

Yes ! Nanterre will remain the club where I grew up, where I lived the best moments of my career. I remain in close contact with Pascal Donnadier and also with all the members of Nanterre. Playing them is always special. They know that our shared history will be omitted for 40 minutes and that I will go all out because I have a competitive spirit. It’s the club’s DNA, everyone knows what they have to do. This is a special event for my children who grew up in Nanterre, especially the first two, I even had a daughter who was a mascot, so I’m sure it will be strange for them tomorrow (Tuesday) in the stands.

“I want to continue to be one of the best reserve players in Betclic ELITE”

There are 10 matches left. How do you find your opponents in the struggle for service? Are you sure about your chances?

Obviously, we are confident, and I can even say that at this hour, without harming us, I take match after match, because I am aimed at winning. We pay the musicians at the end of the ball, so at the moment I’m really focused on winning as many matches as possible. In the end, let’s see what happens. We are not in a position to feel sorry for ourselves, we must all move forward together and be united.

Personally, you are 36 years old. How do you see the rest of your career? Do you want to keep in touch with the new generation?

I have a wife who lives next door, so I think I’ll be playing for another 10 years (laughs). No, I have a pretty clear idea in my head. Obviously I would like to end this season in the best possible way, because it’s the 19th. I would like to do the 20th season, which would be the last one. Finish the matches right and have one last season and I bow out, that’s the desired plan.

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With Nanterre, Johan Passav-Ducteil especially felt the taste of the Euroleague
(photo: Claire Masel)

What motivates you the most right now?

This is my main mission in the club and then to be one of the best understudies in Betclic ÉLITE. When you know that you are one of the most profitable, you want to keep challenging yourself. Otherwise, after, it is above all to continue doing what I love.

What do you think of this new generation of players?

Let them force us to resign. They are good, they are excellent! I like a lot of young people in different teams like Matthew Strazel from ASVEL, Hugo Benitez who is very stable, Ismael Kamagate from Paris Basket, Allan Dokossy from Fos-sur-Mer. There are actually so many good players that it’s impressive because some of them are already starring in Betclic ELITE teams and it shows that the French pool is the most important after the American one.

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