Maccabi Tel Aviv joined a three-way tie atop Group B by handing Cibona its first home loss of the season by a blowout score of 66-94 in Zagreb, Croatia on Thursday. Maccabi improved to 7-3 and now shares first place in the group with Lietuvos Rytas and Efes Pilsen. Meanwhile, Cibona dropped to 5-5 and a piece of the fourth place with Winterthur FC Barcelona. Will Solomon led the winners with 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting. Maceo Baston had 16 points, also on 8-for-10 shooting, with 8 rebounds, while Anthony Parker had 13 points and 7 rebounds for Maccabi. None of them played in the final period. Yaniv Green added 11 points and Tal Burstein 10 for Maccabi. Marino Bazdaric was the only player who scored in double digits for Cibona, with 15 points. Cibona led 15-11 midway through the first quarter, but then Baston and Nikol Vujcic fueled a 2-15 run that sent Maccabi on its way to a 34-55 halftime lead. Maccabi scored the first 7 points of the second half and cruised to an uncontested win.
Luksa Andric made a tip-in which Bazdaric followed with a floating layup for a 4-0 Cibona lead. Parker got Maccabi going with a high-flying basket-plus-foul but Davor Marcelic hit a three from the top of the key, good for a 7-3 Cibona lead. Baston and Parker combined for 4 quick points to tie it at 7-7. Marcelic fired in another triple, but Cibona had already entered the foul bonus. Vujcic stepped up with a jumper which Andric erased with a hook shot. Baston dunked it off a pick-and-roll but Penn answered from downtown for a 15-11 Cibona lead. Baston scored inside, Solomon had 4 quick points and Green added a layup to give Maccabi its first lead, 17-21. A red hot Solomon hit a long jumper, forcing a Cibona timeout at 17-23. Vujcic shined with a three-point play which capped a 2-15 run and gave Maccabi a 19-26 lead after 10 minutes.
Sharp hit a corner three and followed it with free throws which gave Maccabi a 12-point lead, 19-31, early in the second quarter. Damir Markota scored in penetration but Baston erased that with a close basket. Vujcic had a big block which allowed Solomon to fire in a three, forcing a Cibona timeout at 21-36. Mate Skelin followed free throws with an uncontested layup but Cibona only managed to exchange baskets for the while. Kus beat the guests' 2-3 zone defense with a three but Solomon followed Vujcic's jump hook with a fast break dunk in a 0-9 run which Tal Burstein capped with a close basket to make it a 19-point game, 28-47. Cibona went scoreless for almost 4 minutes until Marin Rozic made a basket-plus-foul. Green answered with consecutive baskets while Parker beat the buzzer with a turnaround jumper for a 34-55 Maccabi lead at halftime.
Maccabi kept rolling after the break, as Solomon hit a corner three and soon added another bomb from downtown to give the current Euroleague champs a mamooth 34-62 margin. Bennett Davison even missed a put-back dunk for Cibona, which now struggled at both ends. Rancic tried to wake the hosts up with a driving layup, but the hosts needed much more than that. Solomon - who else? - hit a short jumper and Baston took over with a huge alleyoop dunk. Bazdaric tried to please the crowd with 4 quick points, but Maccabi stayed in charge. Burstein made a layup and Baston dunked it again for a 40-72 Maccabi margin. Nothing changed in the final minutes of this period, as Maccabi had sealed the outcome, 44-78, at the end of third quarter.
Maccabi coach Pini Gershon emptied his bench once the outcome was clear. Cibona tried to at least cut the difference to please its many fans in the stands. Davison stepped up with a three-point play and Andric added free throws, but Maccabi still ruled as Green scored inside to make it 51-84. Youngsters Omri Casspi of Maccabi and Aleksander Ugrinoski of Cibona stepped on court midway through the final period, giving fans the chance to follow two of the most promising players in European basketball. Green shined with another dunk while Burstein added a follow-up layup. In the end, Maccabi won 66-94.
Thursday, January 12, 2006