Final Four Caps Exciting Season for Dexia

13 April 2008

Dexia Mons-Hainaut sure have a flair for the dramatic.

At every turn in the EuroCup, it seems, they are doing something that keeps the fans of the Belgian club on the edge of their seats.

In one pivotal game this season, a January 22 clash at Cherkaski Mavpy, Chris Finch's team travelled to

Chris Finch
It's been a crazy ride for Chris Finch and Dexia.
Ukraine trying to win but hoping not to lose by five points or more since that would give them the edge in a potential tie-breaker for a place in the quarter-finals.

Just 31 seconds from the end, Mavpy took a 76-70 advantage.

But with 12 ticks on the clock, Travis Conlan fed Ben Ebong and his lay-up cut the deficit to 76-72.

Mavpy missed a three-pointer before the final buzzer.

So despite the four-point defeat, they sealed a place in the Quarter-Final Round with a game still to play.

"It felt like a win," said Finch says, looking back.

"But also, at the time, we weren't really playing that well. We were in a run of bad games, but in an odd way, that loss or the way we won it (the tie), helped us get back on track."

If that wasn't enough for Mons' fans to chew off all of their fingernails, then the showdown with Samara was.

Finch's men, who finished top of their Qualifying Round group, had home-court advantage in the best-of-three series and won the opener 92-66.

In Samara, it was a different story. They looked to be headed for defeat.

The Russians had led by as many as seven points in the game and were clinging to an 86-84 lead with the final seconds running off the clock.

That's when Nate Reinking, the slick, left-handed Great Britain international point guard, drilled a three-ball as time expired to give Dexia the win.

For his trouble, Reinking was mobbed by team-mates as Mons clinched a 2-0 sweep and earned a trip to a Final Four for the first time in club history.

Before they'd even booked a place in Limassol, where they will take on hosts Proteas EKA AEL in one semi-final, Mons coach Finch had called this one of the most thrilling campaigns that he'd ever been involved with as a player or a coach.

"We can be streaky," he said. "We like to play in transition; we shoot a lot of threes."

When it's all said and done, and this will be true if Mons do or do not win the EuroCup, the campaign will have been an experience to treasure and remember forever.

That was obvious when Finch was looking ahead to the quarter-final series with Samara.

"It's been challenging," he said. "We have been playing some teams in quote un-quote bigger leagues.

"We're having to sit players down because of regulations. In Belgium, we can play with more foreigners, so we're short-handed (in Europe), but doing a good job of competing."

If you are watching Dexia play for the first time at the Final Four, bear in mind this outfit has a strong connection with Britain.

Finch is the coach of the British national team, and several of the players, including All Star point guard and leading scorer Michael Lenzly - he is averaging 14 points per game - are in that squad as well.

He has a great three-point shooting team, with James Cantamessa one of his most efficient at 49% (24 of 49).


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