BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Trenton Meacham was named MVP of the French Cup final |
JSF Nanterre will not enter the LNB play-offs race this week to defend their French league title, but the Paris club have still managed to collect an item of silverware at the end of their 2013/14 campaign.
In a highly tense, nervous Coupe de France final on Sunday night, Nanterre prevailed 55-50 over Nancy to win their first ever domestic cup trophy and finish the season on a high note after failing to qualify for the LNB post-season.
Trenton Meacham, who was named MVP of the final, paved the way for Nanterre with 12 points on 4-of-9 from the floor and two assists, Deshaun Thomas picked up a double-double of 12 points and 12 boards, David Lighty finished with 10 points, while 20-year-old French international Mouhammadou Jaiteh had eight points and nine boards.
Randal Falker of Nancy finished with a game-high 14 points and added 10 rebounds in a losing effort.
Nanterre led 18-17 at the end of the first quarter at the Paris Coubertin arena but neither of the two teams would score so freely again until the end of the encounter.
Nancy struggled somewhat less on the offensive end and grabbed a 29-26 lead at half-time, but Nanterre balanced proceedings after the break and entered the final frame leading 40-39.
As Nanterre went through a five-minute dry spell at the beginning of the fourth though, Nancy jumped ahead 45-40 and appeared to be embracing the trophy.
First Lighty, then Thomas and finally Meacham however hit big shots from beyond the three-point arc and Nanterre regained the lead, 49-47, with just over two minutes left on the clock.
With just 38 seconds remaining to the final buzzer, Meacham drove to the basket and made it a five-point game, effectively sealing the win for Nanterre, as the gap resembled a mountain for Nancy in such a low-scoring affair.
"We wanted so much to get this cup so as to stay empty-handed and once again this was at the expense of the quality of the game," commented Nanterre head coach Pascal Donnadieu.
Speaking on behalf of the players, Nanterre's French center Johan Passave-Ducteil put the cup success into perspective.
"There is pride and relief, I will not hide that we are relieved," the big man said.
"This was not the best game we've played this season, but it was a battle of men.
"Now we are very proud to have raised a trophy because we did not want this to be a season full of regrets.
"So, mission accomplished.
"Of course, when the play-offs begin it will eat us a little bit inside not to participate, but at least now we can go on holiday peacefully with this trophy."
|Clint Capela was rewarded for his break-out LNB season with the awards for best young player and most improved player|
DIOT, CAPELA SHINE ON AWARD NIGHT
At the LNB season awards gala on Saturday in Paris, EuroBasket 2013 champion Antoine Diot was named as the best French player during the current league campaign.
The shooting guard, who stepped on the top of the podium with France in last September's EuroBasket, averaged 11.2 points, 5.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game to help Strasbourg clinch first place in the regular season.
"It is an honour, a huge honour and a reward for hard work done throughout the season, the team work we did this season.
"I have to dedicate this trophy to my coach (Vincent Collet, also the coach of France) and my team-mates."
Edwin Jackson finished just behind Diot in the voting for French MVP, but still collected one award on Saturday, that of the LNB regular season top scorer.
The Lyon-Villeurbanne winger, who was on the fringes last summer of making the 12-man French squad for EuroBasket 2013, averaged a career-high 18.2 points in this LNB campaign.
Meanwhile Swiss prodigy Clint Capela stole the limelight on the night, as he was the only player to walk away with two awards.
The forward/center of Elan Chalon, who turns 20 next week, was named both the best young player of the league as well as the most improved player in this LNB season.
Capela, who has carved out a spot in the starting five of Chalon, averaged 9.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists during this break-out season.
The young Swiss had impressed with a contribution of 12.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in last summer's EuroBasket 2015 1st Qualification Round, in his maiden summer with the senior national team.