When taking a closer look at the beautiful bustling coastal town of Monte Carlo, one of the last things that one would mention would be their basketball team AS Monaco. The first things that pop into mind about the chic town Monte Carlo is the glitz and money that it has to offer not to mention the sheer beauty of the French Riviera coupled with the picturesque mountains that lend the perfect back drop to a place that many people dream of just being able to visit one day. Other highlights about Monte Carlo is the Formula One race that takes place each year or the posh Monte Carlo casino or spending a free hours in front of the famous Hotel De Paris to see just how many celebrities one can spot. Many also come to Monte Carlo to get a taste of their royal family and to see if they can spot prince Albert. One also can try to come up with a list of how many famous people have lived there over the years to save on taxes as the list is massive as guys like Boris Becker brought it into fashion already in the 80´s while over the years a handful of Formula One drivers have called this dream world home. However Monte Carlo also has a basketball team AS Monaco that after numerous years of having totally fallen in obscurity falling from the France Pro A and having played as far back as the fourth division only five years ago moved back to the elite division in 2015 and right away made a bang winning the regular season crown, but falling in the playoffs in the semi-finals. This season the club has found back to it´s success from last season and is a top the France pro A with a record of 9-2 and in the Champions League is 6-1 . The club is also known as being a type of recluse for former BBL players as their present roster boasts four players where Fraport Skyliner Quantez Robertson has faced two. He could have faced three with Zack Wright, but was injured during the 2013-2014 season embarrassing 73-43 loss in Bamberg . Ex Maryland(NCAA) star Nik Caner-Medley´s first team as a rookie in 2005 was the Artland Dragons. Robertson faced Jamal Shuler in the 2009-2010 season where Shuler played his last in the BBL for Trier before heading to France for good, and had most of his duels against California native John Bryant when he played with Ulm and Munich from 2010-2016. Shuler got the last laugh on Robertson at the 2010 BBL Allstar game slam dunk contest in Bonn winning the crown. Robertson and the Fraport Skyliners split the season series in each season from 2010-2016 with John Bryant but the big man that got the nickname big country during his years in Germany got the better of both in 2015 winning in the playoffs 3-1. AS Monaco came to Frankfurt reeling off a 98-83 loss against Paris, while the Fraport Skyliners entered the game with new focus and life after snapping their 6 game BBL losing streak with an exciting one point win in Braunschweig. AS Monaco was without Jamal Shuler who was nursing an injury and stayed in Monte Carlo and apparently they didn´t need him as they gutted out a 70-64 win in Champions League action.
Quantez Robertson wasn´t only disappointed with the loss but also that he couldn´t get revenge on Jamal Shuler as he also beat him two seasons ago in the Eurochallenge Top 4. The Fraport Skyliners coughed up the ball 22 times including nine times in the third quarter and Robertson had four in the first quarter. “It is always nice to play against familiar faces that you have played against before. You may not know them personally, but it´s always fun. Shuler is a good player. I remember the dunk contest in Bonn. I really thought that I got robbed.Derek Raivio gave him a soccer pass and the crowd went crazy and he caught it on the second bounce. I guess soccer is big in Europe and that helped him. We had too many turnovers. We also were unable to move the ball well in clutch situations. I think I might have had four turnovers in one quarter in college. Tonight I tried to make the big play too much instead of the right play”, stressed Quantez Robertson.
AS Monaco didn´t play their best basketball, but played best at the crucial moments. “We didn´t defend well in the first half. We stepped up our defense in the second half and made shots”, expressed AS Monaco Basket point guard Dee Bost.”We were in this game. We had some calls not go our way, but we had 22 turnovers which was a big difference and we got beat on rebounds”, stressed ex Maryland(NCAA) forward Ekene Ibekwe.
The Fraport Skyliners started off the game with back to back turnovers, but got the early lead as German Niklas Kiel scored in transition. AS Monaco didn´t execute on their first three possessions, but then got a Bost free throw and took their first lead when ex ratiopharm ulm center John Bryant made a tip in off his own miss. Robertson then made a spectacular block on ex Bamberg guard Zack Wright and later had difficultly making a dunk in the second half. “I should have dunked on Zack”, smiled Quantez Robertson. Monaco kept the lead despite Frankfurt getting a dunk from Robertson and Kiel 20 footer, but didn´t retake the lead until ex Nebraska(NCAA) forward Shavon Shields dropped a three pointer and Frankfurt led 9-7. However that lead didn´t last long as Amara Sy dunked and ex Artland Dragon Nik Caner-Medley made a trey for the 13-9 advantage. Frankfurt tied the game as another ex Artland Dragon Antonio Graves scored in bunches. Zach Wright who had had a tough first quarter missing his first four shots and registering three turnovers finally connected on a three pointer and AS Monaco had the slim 18-15 lead. “We didn´t take good care of the ball, but then started to move the ball better which led to baskets”, added Fraport Skyliner Junior Travis Thompson. AS Monaco was shooting 31% from the field and 33% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 38% from the field and 33% from outside. AS Monaco had the 13-8 rebound edge and each team had four turnovers.
In the second quarter, basketball once proved again why it is a game of runs as AS Monaco had the first run of the second quarter and Frankfurt the second to recapture the lead at the break. AS Monaco got their offense to function going on a 11-3 run to start the second quarter to lead 29-18. In the run, the French team got massive production from ex Mississippi State guard Dee Bost who supplied eight points including two three pointers. He had been close getting to the NBA in 2014 and 2015 as he was in preseason camp with Portland and Utah, but as of now has become content on focusing on his European career. It didn´t rattle him any that an NBA scout was in attendance as he has put his NBA career on the back burner. Also in the run, AS Monaco got a clutch trey from 2009 Atlanta Hawk draft pick Sergii Gladyr. In the last two seasons, Frankfurt had guys like Justin Cobbs and Jordan Theodore that could score in bunches when needed and this season that player is Shavon Shields. Shields may only be a rookie, but has no fear and plays like a veteran. He drove Frankfurt back on a huge 16-2 run to lead 34-33 at halftime. In the run, he pushed his own points button as he contributed nine points. He got to the free throw line twice, nailed a trey and a step back jumper. Frankfurt regained the momentum in the run and got further production from American point guard Kwame Vaughn who nailed a three and served up a dime to Florida native Mike Morrison who made the hard two hand stuff. On defense, Frankfurt was defending with more heart and more consistently and erasing any easy shots for AS Monaco. “Shields played very hard and got the offense in flow. Frankfurt got more comfortable on offense again which made it harder for AS Monaco to defend”, stated Alaska native Travis Thompson. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 41% from the field and 60% from the three point line while AS Monaco was shooting 32% from the field and 41% from the three point line. Both teams had 18 rebounds apiece, while Frankfurt had eight turnovers and AS Monaco had seven turnovers.
In the third quarter, both teams came out scoring nicely, but then hallway through, the Fraport Skyliners started to play basketball as if they were being scolded by the basketball God as nothing seemed to work anymore and the 10 minute fiasco resulted in nine turnovers. Frankfurt was fortunate that AS Monaco were unable to execute either and only led 50-47 after 30 minutes. Morrison and Bost traded buckets to dead lock the game at 36-36, but Frankfurt then found some daylight going on a 9-2 run to take the 45-38 lead. In the run, Frankfurt was fortified by Shields who made a reverse lay up, tap in off an own miss and free throws. German Max Merz also hit a trey. Last season, Frankfurt would have held the momentum and most likely decided the game, but this season that magnificent team harmony and confidence through all circumstances of a game are missing. Instead Frankfurt gave AS Monaco three gifts in the form of turnovers and the French team responded with consecutive three pointers from Amara Sy to cut the Frankfurt lead to 45-44. Robertson hit free throws, but the club continued to get no offensive rhythm and couldn´t hit anything and once again AS Monaco punished them with back to back three´s from Zack Wright to lead 50-47 after three quarters. “We played Sunday against Paris being up 9 and lost. We didn´t want this to happen again tonight. We wanted to come out strong and withstand them and we felt we would be ok. We didn´t underestimate Frankfurt. We defended very well and had the lead back”, stressed Dee Bost. “We didn´t execute in the middle of the third. We got out of our plays, didn´t move the ball well and didn´t know when to shoot. We were too aggressive on defense”, stressed Quantez Robertson. AS Monaco was shooting 31% from the field and 43% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 41% from the field and 57% from the parking lot. Frankfurt had the 28-24 rebound edge, but had 17 turnovers while AS Monaco had 11 turnovers.
The fourth quarter was tight with three lead changes, but in the last four minutes, AS Monaco were the calmer and more clever team and just hit shots when they had to. The Fraport Skyliners fought back retaining the lead 52-51 through a Kiel dunk on transition and a Shields trey, but that was short lived as Dee Bost nailed a trey as AS Monaco led 54-52 again. Robertson had a good phase as he scored twice getting the second back door pass of the game from Morrison and making a turn around shot giving Frankfurt the 56-55 advantage. However ex Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv (Israel-Premier League) forward Nik Caner-Medley hit a huge three for the fourth lead change of the fourth quarter as AS Monaco would never look back again. AS Monaco did a good job getting to the free throw line preserving their lead. It also didn´t help the fortunes of the Fraport Skyliners either that starting point guard Kwame Vaughn fouled out at the 4,58 minute mark. Sy and Galdyr hit free throws extending the AS Monaco lead to 65-60. Now one could see the first fans get up and exit the Fraport arena, but with less than two minutes to go, Max Merz kept the Frankfurt hopes alive with a massive trey to cut the AS Monaco lead to 65-63. After one Shields free throw, Morrison fouled out and Wright extended the AS Monaco lead to 68-64. Merz then missed on the drive which led to a Wright free throw. AS Monaco then secured the offensive rebound which led to a Bost free throw. Robertson closed out the game missing on what would have been the dunk of the century. “It wasn´t easy, but we gutted it out. And it went to the wire. The score doesn´t show it, but it felt more like a one point difference”, stated Dee Bost. “Despite the loss, I felt that Merz did a good job coming in an executing and hitting that deep three at the end. After that we gave them too many free throws and gave them a few offensive rebounds which broke us down”, stressed Quantez Robertson. AS Monaco was led by Dee Bost with 19 points. Zach Wright added 16 points and Amara Sy had 13 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Shavon Shields with 24 points while Quantez Robertson added 13 points. AS Monaco shot 30% from the field and 44% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners shot 40% from the field and 46% from outside. AS Monaco won the rebound battle 38-34 and had 14 turnovers while Frankfurt coughed up the ball 22 times.