Olympiacos clinched its first Top 16 win of the season by beating Cibona VIP 62-68 on the road in Zagreb, Croatia on Wednesday night in Group D. Olympiacos improved to 1-2 in the Group D standings, while Cibona drops to 0-3, with virtually no chance to make it to the Final Four. The Reds' defense limited their opponents to 25 second-half points, while 5 points by Vangelis Sklavos in the final 45 seconds sealed the win for Olympiacos. Christos Harissis led the winners with 12 points and Milan Tomic added 10 for the Reds. Barisa Krasic led Cibona with 15 points, while Marko Popovic added 14 and 6 rebounds and Andrej Stimac had 11 points for the hosts. Cibona made just 4 of 23 three-pointers, as its offense collapsed in the second half.
It was an up-tempo game in the early going, which Cibona dominated as a basket in the low post by Josko Poljak ignited a 6-0 run in which Popovic added a three-point play for an 8-2 local lead. Harissis scored the opening 5 points for Olympiacos, but those were quickly eclipsed as a layup in penetration from Krasic, a three by Jurica Golemac and a running jumper by Popovic boosted the hosts to a 15-5 lead midway through the first quarter. Olympiacos called timeout, but Cibona carried on looking for Poljak in the middle and dominating the boards. Eventually, the Reds woke up, and used a 0-6 run capped by a fastbreak layup from Boris Gorenc to make it a four-point game at 18-14. Krasic and Milan Tomic exchanged threes before the end of the first quarter, as Cibona led 21-17 after 10 minutes.
The Reds carried on rallying early in the second quarter, and a layup by Sklavos sparked a 0-6 run in which Liadelis drilled a long two-pointer and Bagaric, on his return to Croatia, added a reverse layup to give Olympiacos its first lead, 21-23. Krasic answered fron downtown for Cibona, and the hosts stopped struggling against the Reds' zone defense. Stimac scored back-to-back baskets to help the hosts to a slim lead at 28-26, but a low post basket by Sklavos and a steal in the inbound pass for an easy layup by Panagiotis Liadelis made Olympiacos regain the lead at 28-30. Several lead changes followed in this back-and-forth battle until Cibona improved its defense. The Reds went scoreless for more than 2 minutes, and the hosts took over with a 9-0 run in the final minutes of the half, powered by Andrija Zizic and Stimac, enough to give Cibona a 37-32 halftime lead. Cibona outrebounded the Reds by 28-14 in the first half.
Olympiacos got back in the game soon after halftime, as 2 free throws by Bagaric and back-to-back baskets by Gorenc, including a wild dunk, brought the guests within 39-38. The game had turned into a defensive battle as both teams exchanged turnovers and missed shots until a two-handed slam by Ruben Wolkowysky made it a two-point game at 42-40 after 25 minutes. Both teams carrid on struggling in the offensive end and the Reds regained at 44-46 lead with foul shots by Ioannis Kalamboukis, Harissis and Wolkowysky. Cibona's offense collapsed, as Olympiacos' defense limited Cibona to 9 third-quarter points. A running jumper by Popovic tied the game at 46-46, but the Reds had the final word, as a three from the top of the arc by Harissis almost at the buzzer gave Olympiacos a 46-49 lead entering the fourth.
Little changed early in the final quarter, as Olympiacos had full control of the game while Cibona could not find the way to the basket. Dunks by Wolkowysky and Goran Jurak extended the Reds' lead to 47-56, after 2 free throws by Harissis. Cibona called timeout, but the hosts could not break the Olympiacos defense, while the Reds played with long possessions and good shot selection to keep a safe margin. A triple by Gorenc gave Olympiacos a double-digit lead at 49-59 with 5 minutes to go. It was do-or-die time for Cibona, but the hosts spent more 7 minutes without making a field goal. Still, 6 foul shots by Stimac, Krasic and Popovic brought Cibona within 56-61 with less than 3 minutes to go, and a tip-in by Krasic, the first field goal by the hosts in this period, made it a three-point game at 58-61. The Reds failed to score against Cibona's aggressive defense for more than 2 minutes, but a key three-pointer by Sklavos with under a minute to go sealed the win for Olympiacos.
Wednesday, March 17, 2004