AS Monaco-AEK Preview: AEK look to get job done as Monaco look to spoil party
FIBA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE - FINAL
|AS Monaco||1:30 PM (EST)||AEK|
AEK and AS Monaco will clash at the OAKA Olympic Indoor Hall on Sunday night as both sides look to win the second edition of the FIBA Basketball Champions League…
After two very different semi-final matchups, AEK and AS Monaco emerged as the two finalists set to compete in the second-ever FIBA Champions League Final as both sides look to claim their first triumph in the competition.
Monaco cruised to a comfortable win over German side MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in their semi-final clash early Friday evening, while there was plenty of late drama in the nightcap as AEK snatched a two-point win over UCAM Murcia to defend home court.
A nervy win over Murcia might not have impressed as much as Monaco’s dominating defeat of Ludwigsburg, but the Enosi will be confident that they can feed off the home crowd to capture the Champions League crown.
The Enosi will look to overcome Monaco for the first time in the competition after a previous meeting in last season’s competition saw the French club knockout AEK in the quarterfinal round.
Monaco, meanwhile, will look to take care of unfinished business from last season after the French side went on to the Final Four of last season’s competition only to lose to Banvit in the semi-finals.
Monaco would go on to beat Reyer Venezia in last season’s consolation final, but the principality club will now look to win in the higher-profile game on championship Sunday.
Dusan Sakota overcame a late injury scare so that he could feature for AEK in Friday’s win over Murcia. The Serbian-born Greek international, coached by his father Dragan, played an important role off the bench for AEK as he netted 15 points. Manny Harris will need to replicate his 20-point effort from Friday night, though the elder Sakota will look to relieve some of the pressure on Harris and get Vassilis Xanthopoulos more involved than the seven assists from Friday night.
Elmedin Kikanovic enjoyed a stellar shooting night against Ludwigsburg as he notched 19 points off of 7/7 field goal shooting to lead all Monaco scorers. The Bosnian big man will likely play a big role in Monaco’s game-plan against AEK, though Gerald Robinson – who tallied 16 points on Friday night – will also play a lucrative role in Monaco’s bid for the FIBA Champions League crown.
04/04/18 SIG Strasbourg 83-83 AEK (Champions League)
11/04/18 AEK 72-81 PAOK (Basket League)
14/04/18 Gymnastikos 75-86 AEK (Basket League)
28/04/18 AEK 75-76 Promitheas (Basket League)
04/05/18 AEK 77-75 UCAM Murcia (Champions League)
14/04/18 Cholet 72-89 Monaco (LNB PRO A)
18/04/18 Strasbourg 71-90 Monaco (LNB PRO A)
24/04/18 Monaco 92-70 HTV (LNB PRO A)
28/04/18 Elan Chalon 65-87 Monaco (LNB PRO A)
04/05/18 Ludwigsburg 65-87 Monaco (Champions League)
Sunday will mark the third meeting between the two sides in just over a year after the clubs clashed in the Round of 16 of last season’s FIBA Champions League. AEK managed to beat Monaco 69-68 in Greece, but the French side responded in the second leg with a 95-87 win to ultimately progress to the quarterfinals with a 163-156 aggregate defeat of the Enosi.
The Monaco clash will mark the fifth time AEK face-off against French opposition as the Enosi encountered SIG Strasbourg in both the group stage and the quarterfinals. The home side won each contest in the group stage while AEK’s win over Strasbourg in Athens in the quarterfinals allowed the club to advance with a draw in France in the return leg.
Monaco did not face a Greek club in this season’s FIBA Champions League though the principality club did face Aris in last season’s group stage.
AEK’s quest for glory has one more hurdle before the club can celebrate their first European triumph since the start of the millennium.
In what has already been a historic season for the club with the triumph of the Greek Cup and a deep run in European competition, AEK now have the glorious opportunity of putting the finishing touches of their best campaign in years with a win in front of their home crowd.
AEK will need to be more clinical than they were on Friday night against Murcia as the Athenians nearly let a 15-point lead go to waste before squeaking out a win via the foul line.
Monaco’s potent offense certainly put AEK on notice as the French Champions steamrolled past Ludwigsburg despite trailing 20-11 at the end of the first quarter.
Monaco’s stellar offense, which notched an impressive 51 points in the second half, was only aided by a strong defensive effort that limited Ludgwigsburg to just 27 points in the entire second half.