By Johnny Askounis/ [email protected]
SIG Strasbourg, home for Paul Lacombe from 2013 to 2017, reunited with the French swingman a few weeks ago. It did not take long for Lacombe to become a factor in a big win.
With new head coach Luca Banchi in charge, Strasbourg kept cool and came back from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat Tofas Bursa on the road in Basketball Champions League Regular Season Gameday 4 action Tuesday. Turning the tables in favor of the visitors, a 16-0 run fueled by Lacombe putting in nine of his 13 points. Marcus Keene scoring six points in the last minute sealed the deal.
“I am not sure fans expect points from me. I am not a scorer,” he replied to Eurohoops about his impressive input in Turkey, “But I can give energy and my experience in crunch time. I can slow down the tempo, necessary on some occasions. In any case, I will try to always give my best for this city.”
Now at 3-1, Strasbourg can potentially clinch the top seed of Group A punching in a direct ticket to the Round 16 with a win over UCAM Murcia in Rhenus Sport, two weeks from now. Visiting Falco Vulcano Szombathely on 21 December makes out the Gameday 6 fixture, the last of the double-legged round-robin schedule.
“It was not the start we expected in the domestic league,” acknowledged Lacombe referring to the poor 2-7 record in France’s Betclic Elite LNB Pro A, “But the team remained solid in the BCL. That gives us confidence for the rest of the season. And if we win the little final against Murcia, we will earn additional time to focus on the French league, which would be great.”
The team located in Alsace is a lasting BCL original. Campaigns stretch all the way back to Lacombe’s initial spell at the club. In 2016-17, he averaged 7.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.8 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game until Strasbourg went to the wrong end of a home-and-away series opposite Aris. Apart from playing in the inaugural season of the Champions League, he won both the Cup and Leaders Cup with the SIGmen in 2015.
Switching to AS Monaco for the second edition of the BCL, he helped the La Roca Team make it to the Final Four championship game with 9.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.5 blocks per contest. The common link to Strasbourg was AEK eliminating his previous Champions League team and later topping Monaco to become champion of the 2017-18 season.
“We are going step by step, trying to win each game,” he stressed describing the side’s approach to the 2022-23 campaign, “We have a good team for BCL. I hope we can do the best we can. The Quarterfinals can be a realistic goal.”
Since his departure, a run to the Semifinals of the 2020-21 season and a couple of berths in the Quarterfinals in 2017-18 and 2021-22 shaped the SIGmen’s efforts in FIBA’s club continental competition. Quite a resume, despite the exits falling shy of the Playoffs in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Lacombe, 32, a product of the ASVEL youth program, turned pro in 2008-09 on the way to becoming domestic league champion in France for the first time. Following the stints at Strasbourg and Monaco, he rejoined LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne in 2020 and captured two more league championships before the latest big return marking his career in late October. Back to Strasbourg much more experienced and high ambitions can be an explosive combination.
Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League
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