Under Slim Fofana, the Dominican leader is having a good season and has become a coached captain. Thanks to him, Union Neuchâtel could witness the final.
After Union Neuchâtel’s victory over Massagno on Saturday evening (71-69), in the third quarter of the play-off semi-finals, a name was on everyone’s lips: Slim Fofana. The big hope of Swiss basketball, already international at 22, has had a reputation since – albeit briefly – his name has been associated with the 2020 NBA Draft, fascinating Riveraine’s team this season.
This weekend, he lit up the “hype” around him by displaying victory to the Federals. Literally, since he ended his impressive overall performance (21 points, 5 assists, 60% on shots and 50% 3-pointers) by scoring the winning basket one second from the end alone when the two teams were tied. Thanks to him, Mitar Trifonovic’s sequence dominated his series (2-1), while waiting for the fourth chapter on Tuesday evening (7:30 pm), a success one away from the final.
For his part, Brian Colon completed the match with caution (6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists). But make no mistake: if Fofana is undoubtedly Neuchâtel’s best player, the 30-year-old leader is currently the mentor in these matches. Brilliant in the regular season, the former had a more volatile three-week run. Colon, maintain a constant level of performance. He averages 16.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and a rating of 15.6. “He shows that he is a leader and that we can count on him, and he pays tribute to Fovana. He is the backbone of the team.” Randwald Desarzine, his coach at Lausanne between 2013 and 2015, went even further: “Without him, the Federation wouldn’t even have passed in front of Nyon (Editor’s note: In the previous round)”.
His last outing where he contracted due to an ankle injury, and was unable to return to his usual production, shows his ability to adapt. “I knew I wouldn’t put down 20 pawns, as in other matches, and because Slim was in good shape, I gave him the ball and went to pull out,” he comments calmly. While adding: “I might not have done that before.”
From scorer to leader
Brian Colon has changed a lot. The lone scorer has somewhat turned into a commanding manager. His hot shots now serve the interest of the group and are no longer his stats sheet. He has the responsibility to dictate his team’s game: choosing the shooting options, serving the right partner, exploiting the spaces, controlling the tempo…in short, making the right choices in order to make every possession pay off. The pursuit of efficiency is led by better and better. The interested party admits to himself: “Before, I was forced when my shots didn’t come back. Now I know how to step down, defend hard and take what’s given to me. I’m as happy to make a good pass as I am to score two points.”
In the meantime, he also inherited the status of captain, which boosted his weight within the group. Mitar Trifonovic is delighted with this long-sought development. “He has matured, the Serbian technician points out. He understood what I expected of him. Everyone knows he can score points, but I wanted him to become a captain. He has improved a lot, and is having a great season.”
Randwald Desarzen also noted that his former protection no longer had much to do with who he directed: “I was convinced he would take a big dimension, but I didn’t expect him to evolve into leaders. He took the best from every coach, it’s proof of intelligence.
“Because he was more focused on scoring in previous years, people doubted his ability to pass the ball. I am very happy because today he is proving that he can do it,” continues Saleem Fofana.
The Dominican of origin, who trained in Switzerland, says he received a click at the birth of his daughter, more than a year and a half ago: “I see life differently. Before, I lived from day to day, I would go there according to talent without asking myself too much of Questions I messed around all the time and when it was necessary to talk in the locker room I let others take care of it my game was focused on me I couldn’t bear to go on this way I started reading so much you opened my eyes You could be the most talented if It didn’t work, you pay for it at some point.
Brian Colon has found his personal and professional balance. In this Neuchâtel union, he willingly agreed to leave the spotlight to Selim Fofana, who, moreover, is aware of what he owes to his teammates: “Without him, I will not develop at this level this season.” Colon feels more comfortable with his role as he compares the current group to ‘Family’. “There is no bad head,” he said. To be good, I need things that are going well around me. It’s very important. That’s why I also feel good. I am satisfied.”
If the unionists qualify for the final, which will be their first for six years, Fofana could reap a significant chunk of the laurels. Brian Kowloon probably wouldn’t take any offense, but he deserves just as much.
Brian Colon has been the most consistent and influential player at Union Neuchâtel since the start of this qualifier. His performance was even more awesome because he had to deal with a sensitive ankle. He says: “I ruptured two ligaments at the end of the regular season. I should have been arrested for two months. I gritted my teeth and woke up this injury in Masagno, during the second game. My ankle is swollen and doesn’t hold. I play with a bandage under my sock, the pain aching. thing.
As Randwald Desarzen points out, “this handicap did not prevent him from signing three of his team’s six interceptions.” The current coach of Pully Lausanne Foxes admires his former player’s resilience: “I saw him play in tatters.”
Could Cologne’s fragile ankle threaten the rest of the playoffs? The Neuchâtel captain wants to be reassured: “I force the other guy a little, it changes the support a little bit. But I don’t think about it when I step onto the field.”