Basketball Champions League meets Monaco's high standards
MONACO (Basketball Champions League) - The meteoric rise of AS Monaco Basket Roca Team from the third French division in 2013/14 to the top spot of the 2015/16 Pro A regular season standings is just the tip of the iceberg for this ambitious club which will participate in the upcoming Basketball Champions League.
Roca Team, as the Monaco club habitually refers to itself, became the first newly-promoted team in 51 years to win the Pro A regular season, on the back of an amazing 16-1 record at home. They also became the first ever newly-promoted side to lift the Leaders Cup LNB trophy (formerly known as Semaine des As). The Monaco side's season ended when they fell to eventual Pro A champions ASVEL in the play-off semi-finals but they have established themselves, in record time, as a force to be reckoned with in French basketball.
AS Monaco was founded in 1924 and tasted top-flight basketball during long stretches up until 1991, when it was relegated to the second division. The period of decline which followed was halted when Sergey Dyadechko, former owner of BC Donetsk, decided to invest in Roca Team and transfused to Monaco the group of people which used to run the Ukrainian club.
"Our approximate ten years of basketball experience helped us to adjust immediately to the new situation in France and reach these great results," explained AS Monaco executive director Oleksiy Yefimov. "We still think nonetheless that our most important achievement is not winning the Leaders Cup or taking first place in the Pro A regular season, but that we managed to have a sold-out gym in almost every game.
"Monaco is a place that has high standards in everything and I think the Basketball Champions League will satisfy these high expectations - Oleksiy Yefimov
"It is easier to build a good team than to create this kind of interest from the public. This was not a simple task, because in the Principality of Monaco there is a great variety of entertainment options."
In order to attract these fans to basketball, the new management team of AS Monaco came up with a marketing strategy. "Last year, we created a campaign that focused on Roca Team being the least expensive team to watch in the Pro A," Yefimov said. "We did not aim to make a profit on the ticket price, we aimed to create a great atmosphere around the club and we achieved that goal.
We need to bring top European clubs to Monaco and we believe the Basketball Champions League will give us this opportunity, that is why we are pleased to be a part of it - Oleksiy Yefimov
"At the same time, we are growing as a club and right now we are working with the Principality to refurbish and expand our home arena so we can accommodate even more fans."
This summer meanwhile the entire organisation is preparing for what they see as a fundamental stage in their growth process, their participation in the inaugural Basketball Champions League.
"Our goal when we started this project, was to play internationally," Yefimov said. "We are aware that in order to maintain the fans' interest we need to bring top European clubs to Monaco, it is a key to raising the level of what we offer to fans. We believe the Basketball Champions League will give us this opportunity and that is why we are pleased to be a part of it.
"Monaco is a place that has very high standards in everything and I think the Basketball Champions League will satisfy these high expectations. I know the people who manage the Basketball Champions League and I have trust in these people, I am sure they will find the best way to make this competition really interesting."
As with everything they have done so far, the management of AS Monaco want to take the right steps to ensure success, so their first concern is bolstering the roster so that it can go through the double challenge that awaits them next season.
"One of the reasons we had such a successful year was that we only played in the Pro A, we did not play any in European competition," Yefimov explained. "By playing one game a week we had much more time to recover. Now that we're going to play in the Basketball Champions League, the most important thing for us is to have a deep roster, of at least 10 players in rotation, otherwise we will not survive.
"With that in mind, we are extremely happy to have extended [the contract of] Jamal Shuler. He won the EuroChallenge title and Final Four MVP honours in 2014 with JSF Nanterre, he was the MVP of the Leaders Cup this year, so it is crucial to have on board players of his enormous experience."