After struggling for 25 minutes to remain unbeaten in Group A, Climamio finally triumphed with a 99-88 victory over visiting Cibona VIP on Wednesday in Bologna, Italy. The victory was Climamio's fifth without a loss so far this season, while Cibona dropped to 2-3 and a three-way tie for fourth place with Prokom Trefl Sopot and Adecco Estudiantes. Milos Vujanic was the man again for Climamio, pouring out 19 points, 5 assist and 3 decisive triples in the third quarter. After him, Gianluca Basile added 13 points and 8 assists, Ruben Douglas 13 points and Matjaz Smodis, Erazem Lorbek and Martin Rancik 11 each. The top scorer in a losing effort for Cibona was Marko Popovic, who put in 20 points. Andrija Zizic posted a double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds, while Josip Vrankovic ended with 12 points.
Martin Rancik opened the game kissing a shot off the board, and as soon as it fell, Climamio activated its full-court pressure. Cibona didn't panic as Josip Vrankovic found the game's next 5 points for the guests. Climamio looked inside to Erazem Lorbek, who scored on a couple of good low-post moves to draw his team within 6-7. Vrankovic scored from downtown again and Damir Omerhodzic sank a transition triple to push Cibona to a maximum lead of 6-13 after 5 minutes. Vujanic reacted with a drive, then Lorbek scored again from under the board, but Omerhodzic, with an offensive rebound, maintained Cibona's edge at 11-17. Cibona looked even better when Popovic scored from beyond the arc for 13-20, and Smodis flagrant-fouled him on the next possession. But Cibona got no points out of it, missing both free throws and several three-point attempts after offensive rebounds, while its own coach, Drazen Andzulovic, was whistled for a technical foul. As such, Basile found 6 straight points to pull Climamio within 21-22 to end the quarter.
Popovic started the second quarter with a three-pointer that showed Cibona was fighting back. Kristic assisted Zizic and Popovic found another three for a new high lead, 21-30. Bologna's anchor became Smodis, who scored a 5 points with pullup shots and replied to Zizic's jumpers. Cibona stayed ahead 29-36 with a couple of foul shots from Marin Rozic, and maintained a 32-38 edge midway through the quarter when he drove to the rim. Climamio came back within 37-38 in minute 18 thanks to Rancik's free throws and a three from Vujanic. Popovic answered with another basket, giving him 15 points already, then Cibona found a backdoor bucket for Rozic. Still, Climamio went inside to Bagaric and Rancik and managed to tie 43-43 at the half.
Cibona took the lead twice early in the third quarter. Each time, Smodis tied with free throws and low post moves. With 47-47 on the board, Vujanic gave Climamio its first lead since the game's opening basket, but Popovic immediately sank a three in response. Basile imitated him and Zizic, fighting against Smodis, brought the lead back to Cibona, 52-54 at minute 25. The game became really exciting: Marco Belinelli scored his second shot from downtown, then Douglas finished a fastbreak. After a timeout, Cibona answered well as Vrankovic cut the lead to a point, 57-56. Now, however, Cibona's 3-2 zone defense was pierced by a three from Vujanic, who wasn't content with just that triple. He fired in another, and another, to open up a 66-58 Climamio lead in minute 28, the 66-58. Soon, a Lorbek jumper and a buzzer-beater three-pointer by Douglas gave Climamio it's biggest advantage, 71-60 after 30 minutes.
Both teams looked tired in the fourth quarter, but Climamio kept pushing ahead as Rancik opened with 4 points and Douglas found a couple of foul shots. Branimir Longin and Zizic struggled to keep Cibona in the game even as Climamio reached its new highest lead, 80-66. Cibona ran out of stamina now, and the hosts could close the game easily, with fastbreaks that gave a 21-point maximum edge, 89-68 on a 360-degree dunk by Belinelli. Climamio could empty its bench and made sure its fans enjoyed the closing minutes of its fifth straight Group A triumph.
Wednesday, December 1, 2004