Sure, every team was happy when they grabbed a victory at the Euroleague Basketball ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT Kaunas. But the satisfaction of winning a game might just be a bit more for Mathis Dossou-Yovo and the rest of the U18 CFBB Paris team. Mainly because the ANGT competition is one of the few chances where they can beat another team.
Dossou-Yovo played a major role in CFBB grabbing two victories and finishing fifth in Kaunas. The 2.02-meter big man collected 16.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals for an index rating of 22.8, the top PIR of the tournament, which helped him earn a spot on the all-tournament team.
"It's an honor. It feels good to be recognized," said Dossou-Yovo, a native of Chateauroux who came to Kaunas expecting to shoulder a lot of responsibility on CFBB.
"I knew I would need to be a leader," he said.
That is because Dossou-Yovo was one of five players on the current CFBB team who also hoisted the ANGT continental trophy last May at the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four in Istanbul.
"We won in Istanbul and that was fantastic. We had a good team with good players," said Dossou-Yovo, who averaged 8.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 0.8 blocks in last season's finals. "That was amazing. We played good together. Those were good players, but also good friends and good men."
Since most of the leaders of that team have since left the organization, it is time now for the next group of players to step up for the two-time continental U18 champions.
Dossou-Yovo, who turned 17 years old on November 6, has a special bond with his teammates. It's something that is built over the course of seasons that are challenging to say the least.
CFBB – which used to be known in competitions as INSEP – is an academy where players develop for three years between the ages of 15 and 19. It has produced many of France's all-time greats over the past couple of decades, including Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Ronny Turiaf, Evan Fournier, Joffrey Lauvergne, Alexis Ajinca, Antoine Diot, Livio Jean-Charles and Leo Westermann.
But CFBB doesn't produce many victories.
As part of a cooperation between the French federation and the French leagues, CFBB and its young talents play in the French semi-professional NM1 third division against grown men. The team cannot be relegated or promoted out of the NM1. And that is a good thing, since victories have been few and far between.
CFBB came to Kaunas with an 0-17 record this season in the NM1. Last season, CFBB lost all 34 games in the NM1, making the fact that the team won the ANGT title all the more amazing.
In fact, CFBB's last NM1 victory came on April 16, 2016, when it beat Caen 93-87 in game 32 of the NM1 season. Its current 53-game losing streak since then is nothing though. That April 2016 victory snapped a 142-game losing streak, dating back nearly four years to January 21, 2012.
"We lose, but we don't like that. We want to win games too," said Dossou-Yovo, who has not yet won an NM1 league game in his career at CFBB.
Dossou-Yovo's best NM1 game this season came on November 11 when CFBB came closest to grabbing a win. The big man collected 12 points, 15 rebounds and 2 blocks in a 55-48 loss to Aubenas.
CFBB's next game was a 75-64 defeat against RAC Basket, the team's second-closest chance at a victory. Otherwise, things haven't been close. Thirteen of the team's 17 losses have been by more than 30 points and four have been by 50 points or more.
Still Dossou-Yovo, who started playing basketball when he was 10 years old, really values playing at CFBB.
"It's an honor," he says. "It's a really good place to work and improve yourself as a player."
But it's not exactly a great place if you are looking to win games. That makes each victory that CFBB gets at the ANGT that much more meaningful.