BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Sean May was crucial in helping Paris Levallois salvage something from an otherwise disappointing season|
On Sunday night EuroChallenge quarter-finalists Paris-Levallois conquered their first French Cup title and the first for a team from the capital since 1963.
The Parisians defeated Nanterre 77-74 in the final at Palais de Bercy behind a double-double of 21 points and 13 rebounds by center Sean May, who also added five assists and was named MVP of the title game.
Motivated by the 'trauma', as coach Christophe Denis put it, of missing out on the Pro A League play-offs, Paris entered Sunday's big game determined not to finish the season empty-handed.
They led by five points at the end of the first quarter, extended the gap to 10, 39-29, at the half-time interval, and took their biggest lead in the game, 12 points, shortly after the two teams returned from the locker rooms.
Nanterre were not going to give up the title without a fight and clawed back to within five points by the end of the third quarter and then further reduced the gap to three points in the final frame.
That was however as close as they would come, as Paris were not able to pull away again but managed nonetheless to maintain that minimum safe cushion until the final buzzer and celebrate lifting the trophy.
In addition to the double-double display by May, Paris got important contributions from power forward Jawad Williams, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds and Julius Hodge, who also had 12 points.
Antoine Diot meanwhile collected 11 points, five rebounds and five assists in an all-round performance.
MONSCHAU, JACKSON SHINE ON AWARDS NIGHT
Christian Monschau, head coach of EuroChallenge semi-finalists BCM Gravelines Dunkerque, was named Coach of the Year in the French League at the weekend.
The 54-year-old tactician led BCM to first place in the Pro A Regular Season for the second consecutive year this season and their first participation in the Final Four of a European competition.
Meanwhile, Edwin Jackson was voted both the best French MVP and the Most Improved Player of the year.
The 23-year-old Lyon-Villeurbanne guard averaged 16.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists during the Pro A Regular Season and is considered a strong candidate to join Vincent Collet's 12-man French squad that will travel to Slovenia for EuroBasket 2013.
Jackson's team-mate Jean-Charles Livio won the Best Young Player award while point guard Dwight Buycks, who plays under Monschau at BCM, was voted as the Best Foreign Player.
18-year-old French international Mouhammadou Jaiteh of Boulogne-sur-Mer meanwhile confirmed his breakout season in Pro B (second division) by collecting both the French Pro B Player of the Year and the Pro B Most Improved Player awards.