Nanterre 92 is already on the brink of its best season in the 7DAYS EuroCup. It has reached the Top 16 for the first time and its four wins match its previous two campaigns, including 2013-14 when it reached the eighthfinals. With a well-balanced squad that has only gotten deeper, Nanterre is a force to be reckoned with.
It was an up-and-down regular season for Nanterre 92 in the 7DAYS EuroCup. Things started out well with an 80-76 victory over Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana in which Isaia Cordinier and Alpha Kaba both posted double-doubles. The good vibes disappeared quickly as Nanterre slumped to four straight losses – three of which came by double figures. Staring at an early exit from the competition, Nanterre turned things around quickly. First came a 90-74 stomping of Group D leader Herbalife Gan Canaria in which Chris Warren shined with 25 points. Then a double-overtime triumph at Dolomiti Energia Trento, 102-104, in which Cordinier, Kaba and Warren all scored at least 20. When Nanterre pummeled Promitheas Patras 91-70 in Round 9, it all but clinched a Top 16 berth, which was secured after other results before it took the floor next. Having already advanced, Nanterre lost in its last two games, a Round 5 makeup game versus Frutti Extra Bursaspor and the return Round 10 game to finish fourth with a 4-6 record.
Isaia Cordinier has taken another step forward in his second season with Nanterre and the 24-year-old has shown no sign of slowing down. The do-it-all small forward averaged 15.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.9 steals in the regular season. He did so with efficient shooting, making 60.6% of his two-pointers, 43.3% of his threes and 83.9% of foul shots. Cordinier's performance index rating of 20.3 ranked third in the competition. He played in only seven games, but Nanterre lost all three games he missed. Coach Pascal Donnadieu knows he can rely on Cordinier at all times; he was the regular-season leader in minutes played (34:55). In Round 1, he became the only player all season to play all 40 minutes in a game and his 46:39 played in the double-overtime win over Trento was the second-most by any player in the past three seasons. As Nanterre looks ahead to the Top 16, it is clear to all that Cordinier will lead the charge.
Watch out for recent signing Marcquise Reed, who adds more scoring punch to the Nanterre backcourt. While Reed, who ranked fourth in scoring in France last season, will eat into the minutes of the current rotation, he will ensure that the team is deeper and thus sharper for all 40 minutes of these critical late-season showdowns. This season is Reed's second as a professional and he is only getting stronger. Five different players averaged double figures in points scored for Nanterre in the regular season, so the team will not be desperate for Reed to force his way. However, when it all comes together, his scoring could make the difference in the Top 16.
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Nanterre's 4-6 record could be tied for the worst among Top 16 teams when the regular season concludes this week. However, there is historical precedence for teams with losing records early to hit their stride late. Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar was fourth in its regular season group in 2016-17 with a 3-5 record before starting the Top 16 with four straight wins and eventually reaching the semifinals, where it lost to eventual champion Unicaja Malaga. In the two seasons before that – when the competition was played in a slightly different format, EWE Baskets Oldenburg and Foxtown Cantu each turned losing records in the regular season into strong Last 32 appearances in reaching the eighthfinals.
The makeup of Group E has been kind to Nanterre with all of its opponents relatively close: it will face Unicaja Malaga and AS Monaco, with its yet-to-be-decided fourth foe hailing from either France or Spain, too. The additions of Nikola Rebic and Marcquise Reed and perhaps even the help of uber-prospect Victor Wembanyama give Nanterre a deeper roster heading into the next phase. Nanterre is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the EuroCup (40.2%) and with five guys averaging at least 1.7 threes per game, there is always going to be someone open for a shot, including big men Alpha Kaba and Brian Conklin in the paint. However, Nanterre has the worst defense of any team to reach the Top 16 this season. Only teams that failed to reach the next stage allowed more than the 84.3 points and 92.2 PIR that Nanterre's opponents averaged. If everyone is healthy, Nanterre has the tools to fight hard for a spot in the quarterfinals, which would be a first for this rising club, but only if it maximizes its potential on the defensive side.