Given the chance to move ahead of a direct rival, Cibona VIP found no problems at all in stomping Prokom Trefl Sopot 88-57 at home in Zagreb on Wednesday night in Group A. Cibona's good shooting performance from the arc, where it made 10 of 18 three-pointers, lifted the hosts to a 4-3 record in the group standings, good for a third-place tie with Real Madrid. Prokom's record dropped to 3-4 as it joined Adecco Estudiantes in the fifth place. Six players of Cibona scored in double digits, led by Andrej Stimac, whose 13 points including 3 straight triples at the beginning of the second quarter that launched Cibona ahead for good. Andrija Zizic added 12 points, Vladimir Krstic and Branimir Longin 11 each, Marton Bader and Marko Popovic 10 apiece for the winners. For Prokom, Tomas Masiulis had a fine night in the paint with 16 points. Goran Jagodnik was the only other visitor to score in double digits, with 11 points, as Prokom suffered from 5-for-28 three-point accuracy.
The first 2 minutes of the game were owned by the defenses until Zizic scored a jumper to inaugurate the scoring. He also scored Cibona's second basket but Darius Maskoliunas replied with a triple for Prokom's first lead, 4-5. Branimir Longin now did the same for Cibona, however, and Marton Bader added a basket for a 9-5 edge by the hosts. When Jagodnik nailed a new bomb from downtown, Josip Vrankovic added another quick basket in transition that forced Prokom to call the first timeout of the night. In minute 6, Cibona capped a 6-0 run that increased the lead to 7 points, 15-8, but turnovers by Zizic and Bader allowed Prokom 6 easy points that brought the guests within 15-14. Cibona didn't panic, however, and Marko Popovic's first points arrived with a layup that closed the quarter 21-16.
Tomas Pacesas opened the second half with a jumper for Prokom, but Andrej Stimac was waiting to take over the game for Cibona. He stepped up and hit 3 consecutive triples in a single minute to launch the hosts to their first double-digit lead, 30-20. Prokom was suffering from bad three-point shooting (2 of 16 at the break) while Cibona was much more effective (6 of 11). Mark Miller was the only Prokom player who seemed to be effective on offense, but Zizic matched each of his baskets from the paint for Cibona. If that wasn't enough, Marin Rozic and Vladimir Krstic now posted back-to-back triples for Cibona. By tht time Rozic added a layup, the lead at the break was up to 20 points, 46-26 as Stimac and Zizic already had 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the hosts.
Cibona kept on shooting well from the arc and started the second half with triples by Krstic and Popovic to increase the lead. Prokom only had contributions from Masiulis in the paint, but Bader replied fast with a jumper and a dunk for a 57-34 score. Despite its 11 turnovers at that point, nothing could stop Cibona. Not even Filip Dylewicz, who hit a layup for Prokom, because Krstic replied to that with another triple, his third in four attempts, 61-36. Cibona had no rival under the boards and was outrebounding Prokom by 28-17. Dylewicz nailed a triple for 65-39 but Josip Vrankovic added a couple of free throws. A 5-10 run with triples by Pacesas and Dylewicz could only bring Prokom within 70-49 after 30 minutes.
To start the final quarter, Cibona regrouped with an 8-2 run based on great team play, with Zizic, Stimac, Vrankovic and Longin scoring a basket each. When Longin added free throws, the lead was 80-51. With little to lose now, Prokom insisted on three-pointers, but they didn't go in. Even a Cibona sub like Damir Omerhodzic, who just stepped on the floor, was able to connect from deep, giving Cibona its first 30-point lead, a big difference in points that can come in handy if needed at the end of the regular season.
Thursday, December 16, 2004