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Paris Basketball-JL Bourg: the favorites and favorites of our special correspondent


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Paris Basketball-JL Bourg: the favorites and favorites of our special correspondent


There was pressure on the shoulders of Tuomas Iisalo and his players. Paris Basketball, which flew through the Eurocup regular season (17 wins, 1 loss), was the favorite of this poster against Bourg and openly dreams of the Euroleague. The easiest way to get to C1? Win C2. The Parisians “took a step towards the title” by winning on Tuesday (77-64), said leader Nadir Hifi. They were faithful to their playing philosophy: stifling defense and fast play to ignite the match, take control and never let go.

Paris thwarted Bourg-en-Bresse (9 balls lost at half-time, 19 at the end) and had folded the affair at half-time (54-31). Intensity and determination on both sides of the pitch, great basketball worthy of a European final and the ambition of the capital club. Paris won the first round, and in style.

It was only a few hours before the match that TJ Shorts was voted Eurocup MVP, and it was only a few minutes before the match that he posed with the trophy on the floor. “It’s a bit hard to receive an individual reward at a time like this,” the American modestly admitted after the match. As if he hadn't been the best player, again, in this first act of the finals.

The pocket leader (1.75 m) wanted to “set the tone from the start”. He did it, with penetrations into the racket (7 fouls caused), mid-distance shots, thrusts and skill, with this velvet left paw which caresses the leather and electrifies the crowds. Shorts, 25, finished top scorer (15 pts) without forgetting to involve his teammates (4 assists) and defend (2 interceptions). At the Adidas Arena, Shorts once again proved that he has it in shorts.

For the 7th match of its young existence, and for the first time since its inauguration against Saint-Quentin on February 11, the main hall of Paris Basketball, the Adidas Arena, was full. In duet with a sound system powered by US rap, the 8,000 spectators, including around a hundred “Parisiis”, the club's supporters group, helped make this evening unique for Paris. An “incredible” atmosphere, declared Nadir Hifi and TJ Shorts in unison.

There were these heaves on the 3-point baskets of Paris, these roars on the dunks of the German pivot Leon Kratzer. And there was also some chambering, initiated by the Parisiis. “Overrated, overrated,” we heard when Zaccharie Risacher, 19 years old and future drafted in the NBA this summer, appeared on the free throw line. “He’s flushed,” was also chanted when another Bressan had shots to shoot. There were also good-natured songs, such as repeating the name of Lilian Thuram, a gala spectator who appeared on the giant screen, or that of PSG and Les Bleus handball player Elohim Prandi.


JL Bourg is the 4th Eurocup team in terms of 3-point success percentage (38.6%). We rechecked the statistic before writing it, because this Tuesday's match is enough to sow doubt. With a catastrophic 4/24 long distance, including a 0/8 to start, Frédéric Fauthoux's players had little chance of surviving against Paris. “That’s the charm of basketball,” coach Bressan smiled bitterly. They (Paris) scored in almost the same positions where we missed.”

In addition to his clumsiness, Bourg was unable to respond to the physical challenge imposed by the Parisians. The good circulation of the ball crumbled from the middle of the first quarter. The Ain club came up against its limit: apart from leader JeQuan Lewis, no one handles the ball well enough to thwart the heavy defensive pressure that is the style of Paris. Also beaten in aggressiveness, in rebounds and in the number of fouls caused, Bourg must quickly recover. “Friday, we will no longer have room for error. That’s enough for the remobilization of the group alone,” Fauthoux decided.

Because even the best Eurocup attack (98.4 pts/match) can do everything wrong in the space of 10 minutes. Paris Basketball only scored 11 points in the 3rd quarter, JL Bourg 12. The Parisians signed a sad 4/17 on shots, while the Bressans were content with 6/14. Lack of intensity? Certainly not, refutes Iisalo. “In the first half, we made some very difficult shots, and in the second half we missed open shots,” summarized the Parisian coach. Fauthoux suspects Paris of having “taken its foot off the gas”, voluntarily or not. Understandable in any case: even like that, Bourg never came close to getting back together.

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