“There is no other place on Earth like this. No other place on Earth,” AS Monaco center Donatas Motiejunas said upon his return to the principality this summer for his second season with the club.

Indeed, the Principality of Monaco has long been renowned for its beauty, culture and elegance. Now, add basketball to the list.

In recent years, AS Monaco has built a name for itself in the basketball world; first locally, by advancing to the top division in France and then winning a series of French Cups; and more recently by winning the 7DAYS EuroCup in 2021 and dazzling many in its Turkish Airlines EuroLeague debut in 2021-22 when it made the playoffs and took Olympiacos Piraeus the distance in a memorable five-game playoff series.

“The Roca Team”, the latest work from the Euroleague Basketball Originals documentary team, accompanies AS Monaco’s players, coaches and management in the buildup to the 2022-23 season while flashing back to the team’s achievements in recent years. Hear from members of the front office and coaching staff about how the team has been put together and from former and current players about what it felt like from the inside during those historic moments.

“Monaco and sports, they’ve been in love for so much time,” said Genevieve Berti, the head of the communications department at the Monaco state government, citing the famous Grand Prix and pro tennis tournament, each founded in 1897. “Our vision is that people understand [that] in Monaco, we do things well.”

All-EuroLeague guard Mike James was a difference-maker for the team last season after he arrived at the tail end of the preseason. “Last-minute bringing me in kind of said something about what they wanted to do and just said something about their ambition,” said James of the decision to sign him by then major shareholder Alekszej Fedoricsev, owner of FEDCOM, who became club president during the season.

Although it took some time for the players to come together, Monaco finished their first foray into Europe’s premier basketball competition on a high note to qualify for the playoffs with a winning record. Once there, James and co. split the first four games with perennial power Olympiacos Piraeus and set up a fifth and deciding game to reach the Final Four in the Greek port city in front of a raucous crowd, an atmosphere that the players will long remember.

“In the end, this is why I play,” Motiejunas said of the atmosphere. “The NBA is nice. People are going there to relax, eat a hot dog, have a beer, just cheer. Here people live for this. Fans in Europe are a big part of why we’re playing.”

With head coach Sasa Obradovic back along with five key players from last season’s team, there are high hopes for another special season in the principality, where the club will play in an updated Salle Gaston Medecin this season with a larger seating capacity.

“On paper, we have a great team and as long as we all buy in and sacrifice a lot, we can do a lot of big things this year,” Jordan Loyd, one of those newcomers, said.

Of course, big things have become the norm in Monaco, at least since general manager Oleksiy Yefimov assumed control in 2015. “When I came here for the first time, the team was just promoted from the third to the second division,” he said. “I asked the president what would be my first tasks. He said only to win the second division and get promoted to the first one on the first attempt.”

And the rest is history.

Learn all about “The Roca Team” in this Euroleague Basketball Originals documentary. The Euroleague Basketball Originals documentary series captures the intimacy behind the EuroLeague spotlights and provides full access to the protagonists and the people who know them best.