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Hezonja's Big Win in Monaco

MATCH REPORT. 30/01/2023. Rodrigo Salamanca

Real Madrid prevailed on one of the most difficult courts of the season thanks to a dream performance from the Croatian forward.

Real Madrid scored an authoritative victory away to Monaco. The Whites achieved a great victory on one of the most complicated outings of the season. The game was not decided until the final quarter, in which Chus Mateo's team used their grit and epic spirit to win their sixteenth victory in this competition. Hezonja, who achieved his Euroleague scoring and index rating record, was the most outstanding player with 30 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds and a 34 index point rating into the bargain.

Defence and turnovers marked the early stages of the game. From the fourth minute onwards, Madrid got into gear and with good team work managed to take the lead (6-9). The Monegasque response was not long in coming and they put up a fight in the paint through Brown and Motiejunas, but Hezonja appeared (5 points and 2 rebounds) to keep their opponents at bay. It was then that Chus Mateo brought on Sergio Rodríguez, Musa and Poirier. Led by the Bosnian, with 6 points in two minutes, the madridistas increased both their offensive and rebounding performances. The contribution of Mike James allowed Monaco to keep their lead at the end of the first quarter (20-24).

Outstanding Hezonja
The home side came out with a different mentality in the second quarter and took advantage of Real Madrid's inaccuracies. But Yabusele managed to interrupt the opponents' dynamic with some great work under the basket. Monaco did not give up and thanks to a strong Okobo (9 points) restored parity on the scoreboard (31-30, min. 15). The exchange of blows was the keynote of a second quarter in which a fantastic Hezonja made the difference. The Croatian brought his wrist to the fore and in less than two minutes he had scored 10 points, with two consecutive three-pointers, to make it 37-40. Things didn't stop there as our small forward continued to do his funky thing and surpassed his personal record in a first half. He scored 20 points, 3 rebounds and 22 index rating points to put Chus Mateo's team ahead at half-time (46-50).

Video.91-95: Hezonja's Big Win in Monaco

The first-half lead disappeared after the restart. Monaco took an early lead with contributions from James, Loyd and Brown. Chus Mateo's men were unable to find their game and the home side took advantage of this to widen the gap and go on to take a 12-0 lead (58-51). In addition, Tavares picked up his fourth foul and Poirier picked up his fifth in the third quarter. But with everything against them, Madrid's response came in time from three-pointers: again with Hezonja, Musa (12 points), Llull and Deck (7 rebounds) tightened the game. The scoring pace picked up speed. Monaco relied on the success of Mike James (21 points), but we did not give up and the game would be decided in the last 10 minutes (71-70).

A Hard Fought Finale
The last quarter was a heart-stopping one and a very important victory for the interests of both teams was at stake. Madrid did not wait to take the initiative through Deck, Hezonja and Yabusele to make it 73-75 at 33'. Monaco were not going to let this win slip away and struck with very quick transitions. But Hanga, with two three-pointers in a row, and Musa took to the court to keep the Whites in the lead (82-87; min. 37). The score remained level, and once again Hezonja increased the deficit with a great triple and gave Madrid +5 advantage with just two minutes to go. Although the Monaco side tried until the end, our defence in the last minute was the key to Real Madrid's great victory on one of the most difficult courts in Europe. The schedule will allow very little let-up and in less than 48 hours Lenovo Tenerife awaits us in the Endesa League.