Cholet Basket starts anew in the Eurocup this season with Coach Jean-Manuel Sousa inheriting a promising squad that just two seasons ago impressed in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague. Last season Cholet displayed its potential by finishing the Eurocup regular season with back-to-back home wins and later reaching the French League semifinals. Even though basketball has existed in the city since 1926, Cholet Basket was not founded until 1975. Just a dozen seasons after its creation, Cholet reached the French elite, in 1987-88, and qualified for a European competition the very next year. Cholet continued to reach new heights with the outstanding Antoine Rigaudeau. Even though he left in 1998, the team won the French Cup and reached the Korac Cup and the French League semifinals that season. After defending its French Cup title in 1999, Cholet qualified to the Euroleague for the first time. Although unable to survive the group stages, it managed to defeat that season’s eventual champion, Panathinaikos. Cholet played in the ULEB Cup in its first three seasons and made it to the elimination rounds in 2004-05 before losing to PAOK of Greece. In 2008, following a couple of quiet seasons, Cholet returned to win the Semaine des As title. With Nando De Colo and Rodrigue Beaubois as the stars, Cholet overwhelmed Vichy 40-67 in the final for its first domestic title in almost a decade. In 2008-09, Cholet missed the Eurocup when it lost in the qualifying rounds, but subsequently marched to the FIBA EuroChallenge title game, ultimately losing by one basket to Virtus Bologna. In 2009-10, with Mickael Gelabale, Antywane Robinson and Sammy Mejia leading a very deep roster, Cholet won the French League regular season and marched all the way to win its first French League title by downing Le Mans 81-65 in the final to return to the Euroleague for the first time since 2000. Even though Cholet won three of its first five Euroleague games, it was unable to survive the regular season. The team returned to the French League final, but suffered a narrow 74-76 loss against SLUC Nancy. Last season did not start out as hoped for, but strong finishes in the Eurocup and French playoffs proved Cholet’s spirit. Now with a new boss on the bench, a new era of greatness may be around the corner.
French National League: 2009-10
French National Cup: 1998, 1999, 2008