Mike James returned to the EuroLeague with a bang. The hype was huge before his first appearance with AS Monaco jersey since it was also the first-ever EuroLeague game for this franchise.

Player of the Game
Danilo  Andjusic
Danilo Andjusic
Points 17
Accuracy 5-8
Rebounds 1
Assists 2

However, James fulfilled the expectations. The scoring machine had 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists to help his team beat Panathinaikos Athens 75-63.

It's not usual to see fans standing up during the EuroLeague anthem. But maybe that's how Monaco fans showed the excitement for their team making a historical debut.

Soon they stood up again to applaud the exciting game of the biggest basketball star that ever played for Monaco.

James went for five straight points to start the game vs. Panathinaikos. He began with a dunk after a beautiful pass of Donatas Motiejunas. Later, he made his signature unstoppable step-back shot almost from the logo.

Although it looked improbable, when Mike James takes it, there's no unlikely shot for him.

Mike James had 8 points already in the first quarter. He cooled down a bit later, but his offensive presence sparked his team on the way for a solid victory against Panathinaikos.

"To be back and get a win is perfect," Mike James told BasketNews in Monaco.

In an interview with BasketNews, James talked about the sad ending of his cooperation with CSKA Moscow, his new team potential, and how he feels treated in Monaco so far.

– You were hot from the start, scoring the first five points of the game. Was it your approach to start the game aggressively to build your confidence quickly?
– Yes, I wanted to start off fast. Just for us as a team. We have a lot of players who haven't played in the EuroLeague yet. I thought that if I got to start quick and settle us down a little bit, will get us into our grove.

Mike James

Mike  James
Team: Monaco Basket
Position: PG, SG
Age: 31
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 84 kg
Birth place: Oregon, United States of America

It felt like it worked, I don't know if it actually did (smiles). But I think that me getting the first bucket and getting the first couple of buckets, and establishing the defensive presence got us going.

– How happy you were about Monaco's quality of the game tonight?
– Really happy. I'm happy that we showed up tonight. We had to be motivated because it was our first game in the EuroLeague. There were a lot of emotions and tension, but this was an easy game to get up for.

It will be games in November, December, January, and February, which is just like this. We win or lose it, we have to come with the same intensity. We just got to keep going on this right path, and hopefully, we don't go too ahead of ourselves and stay on course.

– This game showed the potential of this team. What do you think about Monaco's potential in the EuroLeague in the long term?
– I hope that with this group, we can stay grounded, and we're going step by step. Not to go too far ahead of ourselves and not try to think about that type of stuff. It's the first year for a lot of our players.

I think 5-6 of us didn't even play the EuroLeague game before. So we need to stay on course. We need to take it game by game, grind our wins, take every advantage we can, and when the smoke clears, we'll see where we will end up.

– Tells us about your connection with two very different bigs Donatas Motiejunas and Donta Hall. Both of them change the whole dynamics of the game when they're on the floor. What do you like about your connection with them?
– I haven't been there that long (smiles). So I'm just trying to get them to adapt to how I like to play and where I like them to get them the ball. I've been really vocal about how I want them to keep rolling and keep moving.

Motiejunas obviously likes to play a little bit more with the ball, so we're trying to get him going a little bit more on the block. Donta is a freak athlete, so you just need to throw it there, and he pretty much catches it. I've just been telling them to stay on the course, keep rolling, keep their hands up, and stay positive (smiles).

– Barcelona's head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius mentioned that your move to Monaco was one of the most impressive this off-season. He also said you'd have an explosive season in Monaco. What do you think of these words, and how do you feel in the Monaco system playing for coach Zvezdan Mitrovic?
– First, thank you (smiles). It's always good to have the respect of your peers and coaches around the league. Honestly, I think me and coach are working it out. I think we got good communication.

I haven't been there that long and how I play is a little bit different from everybody else. So tweaking the place has been a bit not a challenge, but when you come in late, you can't just tear down plays and build new ones.

You have to work and try to figure out where your spots are on the team. Obviously, it went well today, and we won, so you can't complain right now.

You didn't speak about your termination with CSKA yet. How do you feel about the way this cooperation has ended?
– I got a lot of friends over there. A lot of people that I consider close friends. A lot of people that I have good relationships with, and we'll probably continue that good relationship.

It's sad it had to end like that. It's sad that the way it went down is obviously not good. And as a player, you kind of get the brunt of it. It's kind of always your fault. I can take it as a man. You just got to move forward and just try to create good things going forward.

From the players' perspective, how should such situations be solved?
– I don't know. There's no right or wrong answer because you don't want to give too much respect to the player, and you don't want to give too much respect to the team. Every situation is different, you can't just make one set of rules.

But we were able to come to the agreement, to figure out something, so that's pretty much the best you can do. When you come to a mutual agreement, you can't really complain about anything else.

– Monaco is a new EuroLeague organization. How do they treat you so far, and how do you feel there?
– I think everything is new. They haven't been in the EuroLeague, and they don't really know how the EuroLeague works all the way. Obviously, they're learning on the fly a little bit, trying to get stuff settled and stuff in the place.

And I think they're doing a good job. I've been around for a while, so I know a lot. Although I think I know a lot. They're doing a good job. I'm not the easiest player to deal with (smiles). I complain too much sometimes (smiles).

But they're doing a great job. I think they're all really positive. They want to move forward. I think they're just open to explore the EuroLeague and try to build a team that can stay there for a while.

– What was your first impression of Monaco fans and this gym?
– Perfect. If we can get that type of support every game, it will be really great. I think if they can get behind us and we can put on a good product every week and fight every game, what more can you ask for?

That was high end interview. Post game interview became almost a podcast. 6 min of extremly good quality information we found. Thanks, Donatas.
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