Laurent Sallard is one of the main authors of the newly launched website basketnews.net and has a long time experience writing for the Paper version of the French Basketnews magazine. Laurent gives us his view on the 2nd French Euroleague team this season: Le Mans.
Overall record prediction:5-5
This summer, a real French revolution happened in Le mans. Jean-Pierre Goisbault, the long-time president, stepped back. Vincent Collet, the trademark coach of the MSB moved to ASVEL and Nicolas Batum, the most talented player that the club ever brought up, has crossed the Atlantic ocean to play in Portland.
You could expect that the team will struggle or go into a period of transition, without real goals. This won’t be the case. Christophe Le Bouille, who is now the president of the club was the GM for a long time now. JD Jackson, who is a rookie in terms of coaching was the team captain during the MSB championship run in 2006. The two guys are ambitious, want to reconquer the National Championship in France but also improve the results in the Euroleague after only 6 victories in 18 games during the last two years. Additionally, the team has lost its 3 year deal because of the poor results and is only participating to the Euroleague because they finished first of the regular season of the ProA.
To be competitive on the European scene, the team needed some experienced players. That’s why they signed David Bluthenthal who has already several season behind him on this level. The Israeli combo-forward has won the Euroleague with Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2004. Very humble, he declared when he arrived in Le Mans that he wants to become the leader of the team and be a more complete player, also in defense.
Another big name to arrive in Le Mans this summer is Dewarick Spencer. French Champion and MVP of the ProA in 2007 with Chorale de Roanne, he comes of a difficult season with Virtus Bologna and Efes Pilsen and he tries to re-launch his career with the French team.
Brian Chase will play the Point Guard position. Even if his European experience is very limited, he has shown his potential in the NBA and the D-League. The Center JP Batista knows on the other hand the Euroleague because of his season with Lietuvos Rytas before winning the FIBA EuroCup with Barons Riga the last season.
Le Mans has also signed some well known players from the ProA. National Champion together with Dee Spencer in 2007, Pape Badiane played another final with Roanne last summer and had a chance to discover the Euroleague. This has not been the case so far for the Senegalese Maleye N’Doye who is considered as one of the most under-estimated players in the ProA for years.
Finally, Antoine Diot and Alain Koffi are still present. The first one, who will play as a back up of Chase and Spencer, should show some important progress. The second one has perfectly found his role in the group. He grabbed as much as 17 rebounds on the 2nd gameday of the ProA.
The few question marks around the team are the little experience of the head coach and the missing cohesion of the entirely rebuilt group during the summer. But Le Mans has won their first three games of the season showing good control of the game situations in the hot moments. But it will be on the Euroleague court on Wednesday in Malaga that the team has to show its real value.
Final Four participants: Olympiakos, Panathinaikos, CSKA Moscow, Montepaschi Siena
Euroleague winner: CSKA Moscow
written by Laurent Sallard