Cibona edging Armani Jeans 63-72
Cibona registered its first road win in Group B by edging Armani Jeans 63-72 in Milan, Italy on Wednesday night. Cibona improved to 4-7 and has good chances to reach the Top 16 as the best sixth-ranked team. Meanwhile, Milano dropped to 2-9 and is all but mathematically out of chances to advance to the next round. Chris Warren paced the winners with 27 points on 5-for-8 three-pointers and 10 rebounds. Larry Ayuso added 16 points while Tre Kelley had 10 for Cibona, who were without power forward Sam Hoskin tonight. Dusan Vukcevic had 18 points for Armani Jeans while Danilo Gallinari added 12 for the hosts, that led 35-33 at halftime. Warren led Cibona in a 0-8 run after the break that put the hosts back ahead, 35-41. Gallinari and Vukcevic brought Milano within 45-46 but an unstoppable Warren allowed Cibona to extend its margin to 48-51 after 30 minutes. A fast break layup by Vukcevic tied the game, 55-55, with 8 minutes to go, but that's when Cibona sealed the outcome. Luksa Andric and a red hot Warren fueled a 0-11 run that allowed Cibona to get back to Zagreb with an important road win.
Warren opened the scoring with a five-meter jumper, as Milano needed more than minutes to score until Mindaugas Katelynas stepped up with a dunk in transition. Both teams struggled to score in the early going, with poor shot selection, but once again Warren made free throws for a 2-4 edge. Katelynas answered from downtown while Gallinari added foul shots to give Milano a 7-4 lead. Cibona could not get its frontcourt involved and kept looking for outside shots. Meanwhile, Pietro Aradori shined with a followup basket that capped a 8-0 run and made the guests call timeout at 10-4. Warren sank a three-pointer while Ayuso added free throws to keep Cibona in the game, 10-9. Gallinari buried a jumper but Ayuso answered with one from from beyond the arc, good for a 12-12 tie. Andric found his first points and soon had a big block on Vukcevic, who took revenge with a five-meter jumper and free throws for a 16-14 Milano edge. Franko Kastropil scored around the basket to tie the game again, 16-16, at the end of the first quarter.
Cibona kept following its game plan, with a patient offense with Warren and Ayuso as its go-go guys. Casey Shaw stepped up with a jump hook that Ayuso immediately erased in the other end. Milano had started to lock the defensive board but did not managed to run the break due to Cibona's good defensive balance. Tre Kelley took Anthony Giovacchini one-on-one, scored over him and soon added a big triple from the top of the key for a 18-23 Cibona edge, after a 0-7 run. Travis Watson dunked it off a Milano timeout but Marin Rozic scored in the low post to kep Cibona ahead. Gallinari took over with a left-handed layup and fed Ansu Sesay for a wide open triple for a 25-25 tie. Rozic and Watson traded baskets, as both teams had troubles to score now. Watson kept pacing Milano with another layup, as Cibona tried a 1-3-1 zone defense that Melvin Booker punished with a three-pointer to cap a 12-2 Milano run. An acrobatic layup-plus-foul by Warren, a three-pointer by Vukcevic and a buzzer-beating eight-meter bomb by Ayuso fixed the halftime score at 35-33.
Milano kept struggling to score after the break. Meanwhile, free throws by Vedran Vukusic and a power basket by Warren allowed Cibona to regain the lead, 35-37. Milano went scoreless for more than 2 minutes, while an easy layup by Andric and a fast break basket by an unstoppable Warren made the hosts call timeout at 35-41, after a 0-8 run. Vukcevic fired in a triple from the right wing and Booker added a six-meter shot to keep Milano in the game, 40-41. Warren scored again on a second-chance Cibona offense, as the guests dominated the boards now. Gallinari sank free throws but he didn't find much help around now. Meanwhile, Warren - who else? - fired in one from downtown but Vukcevic answered with a corner triple to keep Milano within 45-46. Warren kept pacing Cibona with foul shots, as the game turned into a physical battle. Aradori made free throws off a Cibona timeout but Warren sank an incredible step-back triple. Vukcevic made a free throw to get the hosts within 48-51 after three quarters.
The hosts tried to get their shooters involved early in the fourth quarter, but a driving layup by Vukusic gave Cibona a 49-53 edge. Vukcevic sank a jumper but Vukusic answered in the other end. Shaw scored around the basket while a fast break layup by Vukcevic tied the game at 55-55 with 8 minutes to go. Gallinari did not managed to slow Warren while Ayuso stepped up with a floating layup. Warren sank a triple off the dribble to keep Cibona ahead, 55-60. Milano could not find a go-to guy right when it mattered. Meanwhile, Andric buried a corner three-pointer that forced Milano to call timeout at 55-63. Warren sank a wild triple that capped a game-breaking 0-11 Cibona run and made it a double-digit game, 55-66. Katelynas and Gallinari stepped up with back-to-back baskets but Kelley shined with a driving layup for a 59-68 Cibona edge with 3 minutes remaining. Gallinari hit an off-balanced shot but Cibona was not in a rush now. Ayuso scored off a midcourt steal and soon added a close jumper to make Cibona seal the win in style.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008