“We were expecting a hangover effect, but we had an entire season,” Marie-Laurie Lafarge says

We still haven’t recovered from our emotions. It is a general feeling of serenity and joy. When we stop, we realize that everything was well and intense. Discovering the Euroleague in this form, which we hoped and feared, was a real pleasure. We did more than we could have hoped and we also improved there. We had a very satisfactory championship, we finished 4ebut tied for third place with Lyon, and very close to being 2eAfter a narrow defeat at Villeneuve-d’Ascq (85-80). We are very competitive in the tournament, we reached the semi-finals and pushed the ogre Borg into the third match. Then there is this…

We still haven’t recovered from our emotions. It is a general feeling of serenity and joy. When we stop, we realize that everything was well and intense. Discovering the Euroleague in this form, which we hoped and feared, was a real pleasure. We did more than we could have hoped and we also improved there. We had a very satisfactory championship, we finished 4ebut tied for third place with Lyon, and very close to being 2e After a narrow defeat at Villeneuve-d’Ascq (85-80). We are very competitive in the tournament, we reached the semi-finals and pushed the ogre Borg into the third match. And then there’s this coronation in the Coupe de France, which is a great thing that once again qualifies us for the Euroleague. Everything was great, you can taste it.

If you were told at the start of the tournament that you were going to score this season, would you sign right away?

Many people, but even a few of us, expected a hangover after the Champion of France title, and we managed to win this Coupe de France. We get together…a little bit with everyone because we’re not programmed for that, and as Julie Barines (coach) said, we’re over-rushed. There were doubts at the start of the season and the game I shivered the most this season was the first, at Stade Tarbes (55-66). We start with eight players without Magarretti and the injured Dos Santos. The match was the most difficult in terms of experience – with the cup final against Bourges extended but in a different context – because we had to re-create a dynamic and we were afraid to lose it. When we started the tournament, with the fears we had, we told ourselves we had to win at all costs for the bottom of the table, be patient and fight, because we would be expensive in the Euroleague, and that is confirmed against Schio (96-56). We thought it would be too long. Fortunately, the Tarbes allowed us to advance, and then there was a second fall from the sky, which greatly benefited us, the victory over Fenerbahçe (65-70), which brought an enormous coefficient of confidence. We followed that up with one defeat against Lyon.

You lost the Champions game and then were eliminated from the semi-finals, having finished fourth on the final day, thus losing the house advantage in the semi-finals. Do you have any regrets about this season?

Today, I have no regrets. Even if we hadn’t won in Paris, the season would have been full. We are only sixe Women’s League budget, we must measure the strength of this feat. We’ve been in a lot of trouble this year, with the Vothox Marine back from the Olympics injured, Dos Santos injured in the first game, we’ve exhausted as many contracts as possible. We had a lot of danger zones but we were able to restart. We couldn’t find the Joker in December and we kept playing, playing all year round without Valerian (Vukosavljevic) and without Joker at the level we had hoped for. We showed great team strength.

Will the goal now be to win trophies or play the Euroleague every year?

We told ourselves that in 2022 we had to be reliable candidates every year in the race for the Euroleague. It’s a great competition, which puts us in a positive dynamic. Winning titles is complicated, but even if it means having goals, today is back in Paris. And then we want to keep competing to play in the top four, even if there are arms races.

You will have to compensate for the departure of executive players such as Tolo or Vukosavljevic …

We always want to keep everyone when things are going well: who doesn’t want to keep Harmon, Tolo, or Vukosavljevic? Harmon is retiring but will continue to train. With what we show today, we have the strength to attract the big players. But at some point, they go abroad because there is the problem of global economic competition, taxes, and sometimes, foreign countries attract them more than France. We feel good that we’ve fixed players, like Magarity – it’s almost a miracle because she had a clause to leave but it didn’t work – or Kendra Chery, at the end of the contract and in great demand (she extended it by two years, editor’s note). The rookies have almost managed to keep them.

Why did you decide to enlist Clarence Leathery Debbie and Evelyn Akator and Yulia Musyanko?

The priority was to fix a French player inside and we hired Clarence Leatherette (26) for two seasons. She is a young, but experienced player, attracted by the Euroleague and who knows Lydia (Tursinovic) and Marie-Yves Paget well. She has athletic and defensive qualities to help Reagan really well, she made a very interesting playoff and a good end to the season.

In the fifth post, we found our boots several times but were overtaken by the big clubs in the Euroleague. We recruited Evelyn Akhator, a different profile than Marianna. She is a tough player, still young, who knows the French championship and European matches well. She has barely missed a game on the LFB for three years, which is reassuring after failed bets like Clarissa dos Santos (knee injury, only played three games, editor’s note). We are very happy to have it back.

We will have youngsters who will step up to strengthen the group and we have also offered a contract to Yulia Musianko, (after 2-3) who has a perfect appearance as a player on the bench. She is a hard-working defender and will complement the team perfectly. There will be minutes of playing time to take in to help and it could be perfect in this 9-10 . turneable to give the short ten minutes that we sometimes missed.

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