Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez

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Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez
Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez logo
Leagues LNB Pro A
Founded 1908
History 1908 - present
Arena Palais des Sports de Pau
(capacity: 7,707)
Location Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France
Team colors White and Green
President France Didier Gadou
Head coach France Claude Bergeaud
Championships French Championships: (9)
1986, 1987, 1992, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004
Tournoi des As Cup: (3)
1991, 1992, 1993
French Cups: (3)
2002, 2003, 2007
Semaine des As Cup: (1)
Korać Cup: (1)
Website elan-bearnais.fr
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Home jersey
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Team colours
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Away jersey
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Team colours

The Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez is a French professional basketball club based in Pau. They play their home games at the Palais des Sports de Pau. They are one of the most successful clubs in French basketball history.


The Élan Béarnais was founded in 1931 in the town of Orthez. Before that, the basketball club was merely a section of the Orthez sports club, founded in 1908. It was not a "club" in the modern sense, but rather a sponsorship created by clerics to enable the local youth to play sports.

The club first reached the top level of French professional basketball in 1973. They were immediately relegated back to the second division following the season, but returned to the top flight in 1976. The club then made their European debut one year later, in 1977, by qualifying for the Korać Cup. They continued their ascent by winning the Korać Cup in 1984, defeating Red Star Belgrade in the final. This was the first of many pieces of silverware that would be added to the club's trophy cabinet over the next two decades.

More success followed as the Élan Béarnais were finally crowned champions of France, winning back-to-back titles in 1986 and 1987. This earned them entry into the European Champions' Cup (present-day Euroleague). Despite their status as newcomers they were not intimidated, completing their maiden campaign with a miraculous 3rd-place finish and a perfect record at home. It was a magical run, the club defeating such European giants as Žalgiris Kaunas, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Real Madrid, and eventual 1987 champions Olimpia Milano on their home court, La Moutète. The Élan Béarnais would remain a fixture in European competition every season thereafter, until 2008, setting a European longevity record of 31 years (1977–2008).

Now that this humble club from a village of 12,000 people at the foot of the Pyrénées had blossomed into a power of European basketball, a move to a bigger city became necessary. The club changed its name in 1989, becoming the Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez, and moved to the city of Pau, after the inauguration of the Palais des Sports in 1991. This move was made possible by the visionary efforts of two men: Pierre Seillant, the beloved longtime president of the club, and André Labarrère, then-mayor of Pau. Thanks to them, the Palais (still today the largest basketball-centered arena in France) was built, and the Élan were able to remain in their home region of Béarn.

With the transition complete, the club carried on cementing their status as the dominant force of French basketball by winning seven more league championships. The club's nine titles ties for the second most championships of any team in the history of the Pro A. The latest one came in 2004, the second of back-to-back titles, and the culmination of a golden-age for the club. The most spectacular season of all, however, was arguably exhibited a year earlier, in 2003, when the breathtaking abilities of two burgeoning young talents named Boris Diaw and Mickaël Piétrus spearheaded the Élan Béarnais to a sweep of all three French trophies (Le Championnat, Coupe de France and Semaine des As). Following the season, both players were drafted in the first round of the 2003 NBA Draft.

Unfortunately, due to exodus of talent, a lack of coaching stability, and financial problems, the success of the club steadily waned from 2004 on, until rock-bottom was reached and the unthinkable happened: in 2009, the Élan Béarnais were relegated to the LNB Pro B, their first stint in the second division since 1976. This disappointment was used as an opportunity to re-structure and re-strengthen the club, but although they earned immediate promotion back to the Pro A in 2010, their struggles continued, and they were relegated for a 2nd time in 2012. However, the Élan once again made quick work in climbing back to the top-flight, and in the 2013-14 season they narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Pro A playoffs for the first time since 2006. With club-legend Didier Gadou entrenched as the Director of Operations, and former title-winning head-coach Claude Bergeaud back at the helm, along with young homegrown players such as Jean-Fred Morency and Remi Lesca evolving into key contributors, the future looks very bright for this proud club.

In 2008 the club underwent a minor name-change, becoming the Élan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez. The city of Lacq's inclusion in the name and entrance onto the director's board strengthened the club's Béarn identity. For their part, Lacq, located just north-west of Pau, now provides funding to the club.


The Élan Béarnais' biggest rival is Limoges CSP, another legendary French club, who have been trading blows with one another, both figuratively and literally, since the early 1980s for national supremacy on the hardwood. In the 22 years between 1983 and 2004, the two clubs combined for 18 championships, and multiple games against each other involved fights between the players, including one that resulted in a brawl between Élan supporters and Limoges players at the old Orthez venue, La Moutète. ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne is also a fierce rival of the Élan Béarnais, and games against both of these teams are referred to as the 'Clasicos' of French basketball, receiving tremendous hype from the media and fans.

2011/2012 Roster[edit]

Jersey Name Birth year Height (meter) Nationality Position
4 Rémi Lesca 1990 1.80 France Point guard
5 Teddy Gipson 1980 1.93 United States Shooting guard
7 Florian Lesca 1989 1.94 France Shooting guard
8 Antoine Mendy 1983 1.98 France Small forward
9 Claude Marquis 1980 2.04 France Center
11 Slaven Rimac 1974 1.95 Croatia Shooting guard
12 Chinemelu Elonu 1987 2.08 Nigeria Power Forward/Center
13 Marko Maravič 1979 2.01 Slovenia Small Forward
15 Mickael Var 1990 2.05 France Power Forward
16 Tanguy Ramasaamy 1990 2.06 France Center
17 Romain Hillotte 1991 1.94 France Shooting guard
20 Jean-Frederic Morency 1989 1.99 France Small Forward
22 Allan Ray 1984 1.88 United States Point guard


U20 Team[edit]

France Mickael Var 2.05 Power Forward/Center
France Brice Rominger 1.75 Point Guard
France Florian Lesca 1.95 Small Forward
France Remi Lesca 1.80 Point Guard
France Alexandre Mendy 1.90 Shooting Guard
France Romian Hillotte 1.92 Shooting Guard
France Miguel Buval 2.08 Center
France Tanguy Ramassamy 2.04 Power Forward


European competitions[edit]

Domestic competitions[edit]

  • French League
    • Winners (9): 1985-86, 1986-87, 1991-92, 1995-96, 1997-98, 1998-99, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2003-04
  • French Cup
    • Winners (3): 2001-02, 2002-03, 2006-07
  • Leaders Cup
    • Winners (4): 1990-91, 1991-92, 1992-93, 2002-03
  • French Super Cup
    • Winners (1): 2007

Notable players[edit]

All-time roster[edit]

Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez All-Time Roster


External links[edit]