For the last time in the Euroleague season, ASVEL overtakes Milan.

With a sweeping step, Victor Wembanyama rushes into a counterattack, projects himself in two dribbles into someone else’s zone and releases the ball towards Yussouf Fall (58-67, 33′). Too strong, not precise enough, the caviar goes well above the Senegalese rod and goes straight into the stands. Bad luck, twist of fate, we can’t tell you, but this easy throw, foolishly wasted, sums up a tough season in the Euroleague that ASVEL just wrapped up against Milan. “Despite everything, we give a positive assessment,” referee T.J. Parker, Rhona coach. We got off to a great start and that cannot be taken away from us. Yes, there are regrets for many matches, but in general we are not going to say that it was a bad season. »

Beaten to the skin by Covid-19-weakened Italians (Rodriguez, Datome, Shields & Co’), the Rodanians nevertheless sold their skin dearly against one of the best armed teams in the Old Continent, which should finish 3rd in the case of Real Madrid. Madrid win over Bayern Munich on Friday. “I am pleased with this victory, because under the circumstances it was easy to give up,” says Ettore Messina, the Milanese coach who won the Astroballa for the first time in his career under the watchful eye of Antoine Rigaudeau. There were many reasons not to sign up, but we did. For us, this is the best way to prepare for the playoffs. »

“In the match against Milan we did not give up: it was fun”

The author of his Euroleague points record (28) and determined to offer Astroballe one last European success, David Lighty missed one of his two free throws with 10 seconds left and the match went into overtime. Milan made incredible shots in key moments of the game, but this is basketball… I am very proud of my team, we did not give up, it was fun. We only need a win. “Even with two successes against CSKA (Moscow) and Kazan not counted because the Russians are excluded from C1, ASVEL is far from the goal, and its goal shown at the beginning of the season is to achieve more than the thirteen successes achieved at the European scene in 2020-2021

Perhaps with a little more collective experience and automatism, ASVEL could have played longer in the Euroleague. Since November 11, the Rhone team has suffered 19 defeats in 23 matches. Compared to the “French team”, so generous in effort and attractive last season, this year the parents have faced great difficulties. True, they paid for the reigning European champions Anadolu Efes Istanbul, but besides this little pleasure, it is very difficult to put something in their mouths…

“We came out of this disappointed, we couldn’t find a solution”

Extenuating circumstances: Never this European season will TJ Parker be able to count on his full vitality, between repeated cases of Covid-19 and numerous transfers to the infirmary. “We never found our cruising speed,” sums up Charles Kahudi. We’ve been touched, undermined. We come out of it disappointed, we couldn’t find a solution. However, there was a lot of potential, but we couldn’t confirm…”

The Villeurbannais headquarters had to go without the services of Eli Okobo (shoulder) for six weeks, Victor Vembanyama for three months (fever, broken finger and shoulder blade), just like David Lighty, who was shot in the arm. And what about Raimar Morgan, who played his first match of the season at the end of March against Olympiacos… “When you lose 40% of your five majors, it’s difficult. David Lighty played 11 matches, Raymar Morgan played 1, Antoine Dio played 15, Victor played 13, lists T. J. Parker. I won’t list them all, but we need our important Euroleague players to exist. »

If the pecking order naturally settled down in the backlines, where Eli Okobo and Chris Jones formed perhaps one of the best duos in Europe, then the machine jammed. And ASVEL really suffered inside. Lack of symbiosis, clear division of responsibilities between Costas Antetokoumpo, Yussouf Fall, James Gist, Victor Vembanyama. “When you have a band of 15, it’s difficult because they all want to play, but we had to make a serious choice, and this is how it happens,” TJ Parker eludes.

“Don’t start from scratch”

With the biggest budget in the history of the championship (15 million euros), ASVEL also sees itself competing with the Roca Team, a newcomer to this C1, who qualified for the playoffs and is guaranteed to become the queen of European competition next year. “We don’t have the same budget and same team as AS Monaco, but we have to try to work on continuity,” said T.J. Parker, who, like ASVEL, has just experienced his first “real” season in the Euroleague. We have to try to keep the players so we don’t start from scratch every off-season. When you change squads in the summer, pre-season is necessary because after that you don’t train anymore. Too many games…

Of course, this is a time of preparation, dialogues, exchanges of opinions, which ASVEL really lacked in order to strengthen their group. We haveLots to learn this year. We will learn good lessons, we will grow »promises Charles Kahudi.

At the end of the European season, ASVEL will be able to fully focus on the French Championship, where they are aiming for a third national crown in a row. Especially since TJ Parker knows the recipe: last year ASVEL, exempt from any European obligations, won 23 of their last 25 meetings. Bis repeated this year before gaining Euroleague permanence?

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