Few people at the start of the EuroChallenge season would have expected Cholet to make it to the Final Four but then again, no one counted on young guard Rodrigue Beaubois turning into one of the competition's most explosive scorers.
Just 21, the 1.84m Beaubois was one of his club's most valuable players as they won five of six games in the Top 16 to finish top of Group I and then survived against BC Kyiv in the Quarter-Finals, winning that series 2-1.
In Cholet's last five games in the EuroChallenge, Beaubois buried 20 of 31 shots from long range for a red-hot 54.5%.
|Nando De Colo is another one of Cholet Basket's rising stars.|
In that span, he averaged 18.4 points per game.
His most important contribution came in the Game 3 Quarter-Final decider against BC Kyiv.
Teammate Nando De Colo, the France international, suffered a broken nose early in the game and Beaubois ended up playing 28 minutes and scoring a season-high 24 points in an 80-74 Cholet triumph.
When Cholet run onto the floor in Bologna later this month to take on BC Triumph, the electric Beaubois will take center stage.
Jeff Taylor of Basketball World News conducted this interview with Beaubois on behalf of FIBA Europe.
FIBA Europe: Congratulations on reaching the EuroChallenge Final Four. Rodrigue, how do you explain your recent emergence as a big scorer in the Cholet team?
Rodrigue Beaubois: Thank you! Since Kevin Braswell's arrival to the team, I've had to play at position two (shooting guard). It took me some time to get accustomed to this position. But as time went on, I learned certain things and I've made my mark. I try to help the team with what I can do. My teammates really rely on me and they have always helped me, even in the difficult moments. Today, they are still helping me to be better.
FIBA Europe: Your coach, Erman Kunter, had high hopes for you before the season but you suffered a hand injury. How serious was it?
Rodrigue Beaubois: I had an operation on my thumb. It was not a big injury, but it arrived at a bad moment. I could not prepare as I had hoped during the holidays. At the beginning of the year, I couldn't give what the coach was waiting from me.
FIBA Europe: Your three-point shooting over the last several games in Europe has been phenomenal. How hard do you have to practice on your shooting skills. For example, Larry Bird took hundreds of jump shots a day, before, during and after practice. Is this something that you do?
Rodrigue Beaubois: It is true that my shot is better. I have gradually regained my confidence after a difficult beginning to the season. I try to work on my shooting apart from practices and for the moment, it's working.
FIBA Europe: Is representing the French national team something that you want to do one day and how realistic of an aim is that?
Rodrigue Beaubois: I think that any player would like to represent his country. It would be a great honor to wear the shirt of the French national team. It is a goal that is close to my heart and if one day I am selected, I will do my best to help the French national team.
FIBA Europe: Who is your best friend in the Cholet team? Also, what is it like playing alongside Nando De Colo?
Rodrigue Beaubois: If you consider that the team is very young, we appreciate each other very well. I get along with everyone, perhaps a little more with the players I was with at the Cholet Center of Formation. Nando is very a good player. He was elected French MVP of Pro A at 21 years of age and that proves that he has a very good level of play. It is very interesting to play alongside him. That enables me to learn and that encourages me to try to improve like him. We get on well on the court because we used to play together on the youth team.
FIBA Europe: When Nando suffered a broken nose against BC Kyiv, did you feel an additional burden to carry the team?
Rodrigue Beaubois: It was the (deciding) third game. We knew that if we lost this game, all was finished. This really motivated us to win this match which would mean qualifying for the Final Four. When I saw Nando holding his face and that a little blood ran between its fingers, I immediately understood that it would be difficult for us because he is a major and very important player in the team. As I was already concentrated on our objective, the victory, I said to myself that it was necessary that I take it upon myself more in this match and that I take on more responsibilities. The whole team adapted and the collective desire paid off at the end of the game.
FIBA Europe: How confident are you and your teammates going into the EuroChallenge Final Four where you will play against a very good BC Triumph team? Will you win the EuroChallenge title?
Rodrigue Beaubois: We are very happy to have qualified for the Final Four. We do not go to Bologna to make up the numbers. There remain only two matches to win to have this title. We will do everything to go to the end. All the finalists are very good teams, but we are very motivated and we all will give everything to arrive there. For the victory I cannot guarantee, but everything is possible.
FIBA Europe: France has produced so many good players in the past. When did you begin to play basketball and which player did you look up to and aspire to be like?
Rodrigue Beaubois: When I was a child, I wanted to play football. One evening, I saw a game of basketball on TV and I really liked it. In my neighborhood, there was somebody who was in charge of a basketball club. He invited me to join them and I immediately accepted. During my childhood, there were only NBA games on TV, therefore I was a fan of Ray Allen, for his shooting, and of Allen Iverson. He is a very small guy who passes everywhere, and goes into the small gaps to finish on the "big men".
FIBA Europe: Tell us a little more about you. You were born in the French region of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean? When did you cross the Atlantic and move to Europe?
Rodrigue Beaubois: I was born in Guadeloupe in 1988 and I arrived at the Centre de Formation of Cholet when I was 17 years old (four years ago).
FIBA Europe: How big is your family?
Rodrigue Beaubois: There are five of us. I have two older sisters.
FIBA Europe: What do you like to do when you are not playing basketball?
Rodrigue Beaubois: Play video games, surf the internet like all the young people, spend some time with my friends, watch sport on TV and listen to music.
FIBA Europe: Rodrigue, thanks for helping make the EuroChallenge a fantastic competition and we appreciate you taking time for the interview. Good luck for the remainder of the season.