Cibona VIP managed to end its Top 16 participation with a win in front of its fans, and what's more, it can call himself the only team to have beaten CSKA Moscow, already in the Final Four, in the Top 16 thanks to a 81-72. Cibona jumped ahead quickly and never looked back, even though CSKA managed to pull within 3 points on one occasion. Therefore, Cibona ends with a 2-4 record in Group D in third place, while CSKA drops to 5-1 and its next game will be already a Final Four semifinal. Davor Kus led Cibona with 21 points, Josip Vrankovic added 16, Barisa Krasic 14 and Slaven Rimac had 10. For CSKA, Sergey Monya led the way with 16 points, while J. R. Holden and Alexander Bashminov nailed 10 apiece.
Travelling without Marcus Brown, Mirsad Turkcan and Victor Alexander, it was clear that CSKA coach Duda Ivkovic, would give minutes to players who normally do not enjoy them as often as they would like. With young Anton Yudin in the starting five, the guests started with slim advantages, but two straight triples by Barisa Krasic sent Cibona on the run as it never looked back agin in the first half, 8-6 and 11-9. Sergei Panov tied again but a new basket by Krasic fixed the situation again for the first CSKA timeout in minute 4, 13-11. Cibona was on fire from the arc, as Josip Vrankovic scored the fifth of 6 attempts for 20-11 until Sergei Monya broke the run of the hosts with a dunk. However, Cibona maintained the margin thanks to good defense and Davor Kus points for a double-digit lead after 10 minutes, 28-17.
In the second quarter, CSKA looked for salvation from beyond the arc but unlike Cibona, it only managed to hit 1 of 13 until halftime. On the other hand, Cibona rode hard and Slaven Rimac put a 30-17, but a shy reaction by the guests capped by a J.R. Holden left the deficit under 10 points again, 32-23. However, Kus stepped up for back-to-back tripes that launched Cibona again to a 38-23. At that point, only Theodoros Papaloukas seemed to struggle against the efficiency of Cibona but a Josko Poljak layup sent the teams to the break with a 41-28.
The second half started in the same manner and Cibona managed to stay ahead by 12 points after two free throws by Andrija Zizic, 43-31. However, a 5-14 run by CSKA with a triple by Egor Vialtsev and capped by two free throws by Bashminov, pulled the guests within only three points, 48-45. However that was as much as CSKA would do as Cibona managed to find its pace again and 5 straight points by Matej Mamic boosted Cibona to 53-45, and two free throws by Kus left a 55-48 after 30 minutes.
Even though Savrasenko hit a three-point play to start the last quarter, Krasic copied him for 60-54 and Vrankovic's four-point play of triple and free throw launched his team to another double-digit lead, 66-56. At that point, the game went to another level even though a Yudin triple left CSKA at 68-61. With five minutes to go, it was clear that the game would be won by the hosts when a new Vrankovic triple made it 75-63. Bashminov tried it last for CSKA but Kus sealed the win from the free throw line for the final 81-72.
Wednesday, April 7, 2004
Neven Berticevic, Zagreb