Cibona VIP kept up its fight for second-place in Group A by knocking off Lottomatica Roma 82-55 at home in Zagreb on Thursday. Cibona, which was already qualified to the Top 16, added another win to its regular season record, raising it to 8-5, even with Ulker. If those two teams remain tied, Cibona will finish second based on tiebreak advantages. The loss dropped Lottomatica to 4-9 and eliminated the team from Top 16 consideration. Lottomatica held leads during the first three quarters, but a 19-2 run late in the third quarter changed the momentum, and from there Cibona ran away with a blowout victory. Scoonie Penn led the way with 17 points, while Barisa Krasic added 16, Josip Sesar 12, Josko Poljak 11 and Andrija Zizic 10. Roma had just two players score in double figures, Carlton Myers and Lubos Barton, drilling 12 points each.
A three-point play by Poljak opened the match, but Myers nailed back-to-back shots from downtown to put Lottomatica ahead, 3-6. Barton collected his second foul, which sent Jurica Golemac to the foul line to tie the score. The two teams exchanged baskets but Myers' dunk gave Lottomatica its largest margin, 8-13, through midway of the first quarter. Davide Bonora gave up 5 straight points to Penn, but chipped in a three-poiner for a 13-18 cushion before Rashard Griffith extended the margin to 7 points with dunk assisted by Alessandro Tonolli. A final 4-0 partial of hometeam cut the deficit to 17-20.
Barton and Josip Vrankovic exchanged triples beginning the second quarter before Zizic gave Cibona a 24-23 lead with a mid-range jumper that capped an 11-3 run. Lottomatica tried again to escape behind Marko Tusek and Barton, who nailed another triple after a pair of free throws by Sesar. Lottomatica raised its cushion to 26-31 late in the first half thanks to Tusek and Barton's shooting. Krasic bagged the final basket after the Croatian defense kept Lottomatica scoreless for 2 minutes to reach a 33-31 advantage at the first-half buzzer.
Sesar extended Cibona's advantage to 35-31 with an easy layup to start the third quarter, but Barton drilled his third triple in six attempts, which changed the lead again. Poljak responded for Cibona with a basket in the paint, but Rome didn't slow down. Cory Alexander hit his first hoop of the game and after a lay up by Tonolli assisted by Myers Lottomatica's lead was up to 4 points, 37-41. But Lottomatica's momentum was quickly halted. The rhythm of the game changed in an instant: Cibona made a 13-0 run, reaching its biggest margin, 50-41, after Vrankovic scored a lay up. Back-to-back triples from Sesar and Krasic ended the quarter and Cibona had a comfortable lead, 56-43.
Barton opened the final quarter with a three-point play, which seemed to rally Lottomatica, but it was the night of Barisa Krasic. The Bosnian forward scored twice on drives to the basket, keeping Cibona ahead by a double digit margin, 60-48. Cibona didn't stop its amazing run and Lottomatica was helpless in the face of the hosts' accurate shooting. Another shot from downtown by Penn increased the cushion to 65-48 and the game's outcome was no longer in doubt. In the last six minutes the hometeam inreased the margin beyond 20 points and towards 30, as the fans began celebrating in the stands. The final balance was a lopsided 82-55 in favor of Cibona.
Thursday, February 12, 2004