Élan Béarnais

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Élan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez
Élan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez logo
LeaguesPro A
Champions League
Founded1908; 111 years ago (1908)
HistoryÉlan Béarnais Orthez
Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez
Élan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez
ArenaPalais des Sports de Pau
LocationPau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France
Team colorsWhite and Green
PresidentDidier Rey
General managerDidier Gadou
Head coachLaurent Vila
Championships9 French Championships
3 Tournoi des As Cup
3 French Cups
1 Semaine des As Cup
1 Korać Cup

Élan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez, also known as simply Élan Béarnais,[1] and formerly known as Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez, is a French professional basketball club that is based in Pau.[2][3] They compete in the top-tier French league, the LNB Pro A. They are one of the most successful clubs in French basketball history, as they have won nine French League championships and have had European-wide successes as well.


The Élan Béarnais was founded in 1931 in the town of Orthez in Pyrénées-Atlantiques in the southwest of France. Prior to that, the basketball club was just 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, but returned to the top flight in 1976. The club then made their European debut one year later, in 1977, by qualifying for the FIBA Korać Cup. Their ascent continued by winning the FIBA Korać Cup in 1984, defeating Crvena zvezda in the final in Paris (Palais des sports Pierre-de-Coubertin). 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 for the first time, winning back-to-back titles in 1986 and 1987. This earned them entry into the FIBA European Champions' Cup (present-day Euroleague). Despite their status as newcomers, they were anything but intimidated, completing their maiden campaign of 1986-87 with a shock 3rd-place finish and a perfect record at home. It was a magical run, as they defeated European giants or traditional clubs of European basketball like Žalgiris, Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv, Real Madrid, Zadar and that season's champions, Tracer 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 in the process(1977–2008).

As this humble club from a village of 12,000 people at the foot of the Pyrénées 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-centric arena in France) was built, and the Élan were able to remain in their home region of Béarn.

With the relocation complete, the club carried on cementing their status as the dominant force of French basketball, winning seven more league championships over the next thirteen years. The club's total of nine championships ranks them third behind ASVEL and Limoges for the most of any team in the history of French professional basketball. The last one came in 2004, the second of back-to-back titles, and was the culmination of a golden-age for the club. The previous season, 2003, was arguably the most spectacular in the history of Pau-Orthez, when the breathtaking abilities of two homegrown, 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). Diaw's campaign won him the League MVP award for French players, and following the season both he and Pietrus 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 previously unthinkable happened: in 2009, the Élan Béarnais were relegated to the LNB Pro B after finishing in last place. It was 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 second time in 2012. However, the Élan once again wasted no time in climbing directly back to the top-flight, and in the 2013-14 season they narrowly missed out on qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2006. With club-legend Didier Gadou entrenched as the General Manager, and former title-winning head-coach Claude Bergeaud back at the helm on the sideline, the future is bright once-again for this proud club. They remain in a tussle for a playoff berth halfway through the 2014-15 season.

Élan playing Rasta Vechta in October 2019

In 2008, the club underwent a minor name-change for the second time in their history, 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 Palais des Sports, the home arena of the team

Pau-Orthez play their home games at the Palais des Sports de Pau, which has a seating capacity of 7,707 people.


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


Retired numbers[edit]

Élan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez retired numbers
No. Player Position Tenure
10 France Didier Gadou F 1982–2002

Current roster[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team eligibility at FIBA sanctioned events. Players may hold other non-FIBA nationality not displayed.

Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez roster
Players Coaches
Pos. No. Nat. Name Ht. Wt. Age
G 1 France Choupas, Yohan 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in) 19 – (2000-03-11)11 March 2000
SG 3 United States McGee, Tyrus 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in) 90 kg (198 lb) 28 – (1991-03-04)4 March 1991
PF 4 France Cavalière, Léopold 2.01 m (6 ft 7 in) 23 – (1996-04-27)27 April 1996
G 6 United States Leslie, Travis 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in) 90 kg (198 lb) 29 – (1990-03-29)29 March 1990
PF 12 France Cornelie, Petr 2.11 m (6 ft 11 in) 100 kg (220 lb) 24 – (1995-06-25)25 June 1995
PF 22 Senegal Mbodj, Cheikh 2.08 m (6 ft 10 in) 107 kg (236 lb) 32 – (1987-08-01)1 August 1987
SG 25 United States Moore, Ronald 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in) 75 kg (165 lb) 31 – (1988-07-14)14 July 1988
SF 35 France Diawara, Digue 2.07 m (6 ft 9 in) 21 – (1998-10-03)3 October 1998
C 37 Netherlands France de Jong, Nicolas 2.11 m (6 ft 11 in) 114 kg (251 lb) 31 – (1988-04-15)15 April 1988
PG 55 United States Dentmon, Justin 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in) 84 kg (185 lb) 34 – (1985-09-05)5 September 1985
F/C 66 France Daval-Braquet, Thibault 2.10 m (6 ft 11 in) 23 – (1996-10-21)21 October 1996
F/C –– Nigeria Ibekwe, Ekene 2.06 m (6 ft 9 in) 100 kg (220 lb) 34 – (1985-07-19)19 July 1985
PG France Ayayi, Gérald 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in) 18 – (2001-08-24)24 August 2001
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)
Team manager

  • (C) Team captain
  • Injured Injured

Updated: November 29, 2019

Notable players[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team eligibility at FIBA sanctioned events. Players may hold other non-FIBA nationality not displayed.

FIBA Hall of Famers[edit]

Élan Béarnais Hall of Famers
No. Nat. Name Position Tenure Inducted
11 France Antoine Rigaudeau G 1995–1997 2015[4]

All-time roster[edit]


Total titles: 18

Domestic competitions[edit]

Winners (9): 1985–86, 1986–87, 1991–92, 1995–96, 1997–98, 1998–99, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2003–04
Runners-up (4): 1988–89, 1992–93, 1994–95, 2001–02
Winners (3): 2001–02, 2002–03, 2006–07
Runners-up (2): 2000–01, 2003–04
Winners (4): 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 2002-03
Winners (1): 2007

European competitions[edit]

3rd place (1): 1986–87
Winners (1): 1983–84
Semifinalists (1): 1994–95
Runners-up (1): 1984

Season by season[edit]

Season Tier Division Pos. W–L French Cup European competitions
Pro B
Pro A
Pro A
3 EuroChallenge
Pro B
Pro A
Pro A
Pro A
Pro A
4 FIBA Europe Cup

In European and worldwide competitions[edit]

The road to the 1983–84 FIBA Korać Cup victory[edit]

Kit manufacturer[edit]

2017: PEAK[5]


  1. ^ "Élan Béarnais Twitter". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  2. ^ Official website
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "FIBA.basketball". FIBA.basketball. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  5. ^ Pau-Lacq-Orthez FIBA Europe Cup 2017, FIBA.com, 18 January 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2017.

External links[edit]