There is now a bottleneck atop of the French Pro A league standings with four teams tied for the lead. This is just another testament at how competitive France’s premier basketball league is this 2015-16. Strasbourg, Le Mans, Gravelines and Monaco all sport identical 14-6 records. The four-way tie was precipitated by arguably the most important game of Round 20 of regular season action. On February 15th former league leader Le Mans Sarthe Basket was upset by eighth ranked Pau-Lacq-Orthez, 90-77. The home team played spoiler and denied Le Mans shot at a 15-5 slate and the solo lead of the league.
With only 10 games remaining in the regular season, excitement surrounding French hoops is reaching uncharted levels at this point. With four teams in an even deadlock atop of the standings. Nanterre and Chalon round out the Top 6 at only one game behind the leaders with their 13-7 records. Nanterre would have been part of a five-way tie for the lead if they did not suffer a huge disappointing loss to Dijon this round. Nanterre was dominated by their guests 52-72.
ASVEL and Pau-Lacq-Orthez hold the seventh and eighth spots respectively with their 12-8 records. Dijon (11-9), Antibes (10-10), and Limoges (10-10) are all poised to challenge for that coveted Top 8 spot during the league’s stretch run. Look for action to heat up even further as these clubs make their push over the last 10 games of the French Pro A regular season.
Pau-Lacq-Orthez halted Le Mans’ winning streak at two games with this upset victory at home. To their credit, they played some smart basketball and were rewarded for it when it counted. Throughout the game the hosts managed to move the ball quite well and they oft found an open man. Despite Le Mans’ advantage on the glass, Pau-Lacq-Orthez successfully made their fourth-quarter push on the back of some solid three-point shooting. The hosts knocked down and impressive 10-of-24 shots from downtown and it carried them through the critical points in the game. Michael Thompson led Pau-Lacq-Orthez with a game-high 29 points and 10 assists. He was the key catalyst for his team’s smooth offense in this game. Thompson got his teammates involved and three other players chipped in with double figures. Lance Harris added 19 points, while Steven Smith contributed 14 points of his own. A strong, 30-19 explosion in the fourth and final frame secured the win for Pau-Lacq-Orthez.
Mouphtaou Yarou put up a laudable effort for Le Mans. He finished the game with a double-double output of his own. He scored 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.