Alba Berlin has joined a crowd in the middle of Group A by taking its first home win of the season, 84-70 against visiting Cibona Zagreb on Thursday. Both teams finished the game with records of 2-3, joining Skipper Bologna in a tie for fith place in the group. In a dramatic game with many ups and downs for both teams, a break of 20-0 that began with 4 minutes remaining in the third quarter turned the game decisively for the Berliners. The break was initaiated by the tremendous show of Quadre Lollis, who drove his team to victory with 21 points (including 3 of 3 three-pointers) and 14 rebounds. The winners also got 20 points from center Jovo Stanojevic and 18 from guard DeJuan Collins. For Cibona, center Haris Mujezinovic had 13 and guard Zoran Planinic 11.
Alba started with great defense. Cibona simply could not get the ball under the basket and was forced to take bad shots from outside. When Davor Kus after 3 minutes scored the first basket for Cibona, Alba with three-pointers from Collins and Lollis had already scored 8. The scene did not change as Alba brought fresh faces from the bench. Alba dominated under the boards, especially with Stanojevic scoring 6 points on offense and shutting down Prkacin at the other end. Kus went coast to coast for Cibona, then Marijan Mance added 4 points near the end of the quarter to limit the damage for the visitors, But Alba was still ahead by a comfortable 10 points, 22-12.
Mujezinovic and Stanojevic traded baskets to open the second quarter (24-14), but there were more baskets for almost 3 minutes. Prkacin ended the drought for Cibona, and then a huge three-pointer rolled off the hands of Barisa Krasic to pull the visitors within 24-19. Cibona coach Jasmin Repesa decided, that it was time to send Zoran Planinic on the court, which turned out to be a splendid idea. With Planinic at point guard, Cibona's offense became much more dangerous. Planinic not only put in 5 points himself, but brought Cibona's frontcourt back into the game. Andrej Stimac, another young force from Cibona's bench, shocked Alba with a triple, which tied the game. Alba fell into a deep hole, missing even easy layups and not scoring more than a single free throw by Collins until 19th minute, when if round itself behind 25-32. Finally Collins and Teoman Ozturk broke the ice for Alba. Slaven Rimac and Marko Pesic traded three-pointers to end the half with visiting Cibona holding an unlikely 32-35 lead. Collins was leading Alba with 10 points, while Prkacin and Stimac had 6 each for Cibona.
Alba in the third quarter rallied back behind Quadre Lollis, who sat on the bench for the whole second quarter due to early foul trouble. Suddenly every one of the 4,600 fans in Max Schmeling Hall knew what had been missing. Quadre Lollis scored 3 great three-pointers and, accompanied by Collins with 5 points, brought Alba back on track. Of course, Cibona brought back Planinic, but neither could he top Alba's 20-0 break from 34-39 to 54-39 within 4 minutes. Planinic ended Cibona's troubles with 6 points, but none of his teammates except Matej Mamic, with a shot on the siren, joined him. So Alba, with 2 more huge triples by Collins and Henrik Rodl, was sitting on a 15-point lead, 62-47, after 30 minutes.
In the the fourth quarter Cibona slowly recovered from Alba's stunning turnaround, as both Mamic and Mujezinovic began to score, while Rimac hit another three-pointer. But Alba with Stanojevic, Lollis and Ozturk found consistent answers inside. What hurt Alba were fifth fouls for Pesic and Collins after only 35 minutes, when Cibona was still within 72-60. Mujezinovic now came up strong with three free-throws and a cold-blooded trey to cut the deficit to 76-66, but then had to go out with his fifth foul. With only 2 more minutes to go, Alba played down the clock finishing the game with 2 mostrous dunks by Lollis and Stanojevic.
Thursday, November 7, 2002