There are a handful of seconds left, barely thirty, when Pascal Donnadieu decides to call Justin Bibbins back to the bench. The pocket leader (1.73 m) from Nanterre then received a warm ovation from the public at the Maurice-Thorez sports hall. Absent from the courts since the defeat against Le Mans (74-85) on December 23 due to a wrist injury, Bibbins celebrated his comeback perfectly… surprise. The one who was not to return to the game for two weeks was one of the architects of the beautiful victory of Nanterre (85-64), this Tuesday evening, against Pau during the 26th day of Betclic Élite. Against his former team, he finished the game with 14 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Above all, his presence on the floor has transfigured his partners.
“We knew he (Bibbins) would play this match, he had prepared well, says Pascal Donnadieu. We didn’t do anything, we didn’t want to take any risks. We saw tonight why we were in so much trouble without him. He is a leader for what he offers in terms of basketball and by his behavior. He is a born competitor. The pressure he puts on the ascent of the ball is exceptional. He impressed me defensively in the 4th quarter. »
With this second success in a row – three days after that against Nancy (81-75) – Pascal Donnadieu’s players are taking an important step towards maintaining it. At 8 days of the verdicts they now have two victories ahead of the red zone (even if Fos and Pau have two games less). “It’s a breath of fresh air because these two teams (Nancy and Paul) fight with us for the maintenance, it was important to win them, especially since we also won the first leg, but we must not consider that it is over, ”warns Pascal Donnadieu. In addition to the win, the manager had another reason to smile. This match against Pau was the first of the season that Nanterre “played with the squad imagined and formed in June”.
Long uncertain and disjointed, the game of fear was resolved in the final minutes. For three quarters, the two teams went blow for blow. The suspense lasted until the beginning of the last act… and the decisive return of the pivot Hamady Ndiaye. Author of 3 counters in a row in defense, the ex-player of Pau relaunched the Nanterrian machine then at its worst. Led 57-59 in the 35th, the Nanterriens passed a terrible and crippling 17-0 in less than 3 minutes to their opponent (74-59) to fly away to victory.
A few kilometers away, on the other side of the Seine, in a clash at the top this time, the Metropolitans won (89-83) against Le Mans. The Mets, who remained on two setbacks, resume their march forward and consolidate their 2nd place in the standings behind Monaco. The leader they will challenge on Sunday, on the Rock, for the boss fight that everyone is waiting for. Set back in his last three outings – compared to his start to the season – Victor Wembanyama reminded everyone why he was a unique player. Now less than 3 months from the NBA draft, he flew over the meeting with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks.