The absence of center Dino Radja did not prevent Cibona Zagreb from getting its first road win of the Euroleague season when it won 74-84 at Telindus Oostende in Belgium on Wednesday. The result did not have any bearing on the group race for the Top 16 however, as Cibona improved only to 3-7, all but mathematically eliminated from contention, and Oostende stayed in the basement at 1-9. A tie game at halftime was broken open in the third quarter, when Josip Sesar scored 10 of his 17 points. Matej Mamic would end up leading the visitors with a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds. Niksa Prkacin added 15 points and Davor Kus 12 for the winners, who earlier in the week had seen the famous Radja leave the team as quickly as he had arrived to it a month ago. For Oostende, the inability to capitalize on its last home game, which accounted for its only win of the season, was disappointing. Virginius Praskevicius posted 18 points and 9 rebounds for the home team, Ralph Biggs 16 and 10.
Oostende had a scare to start the game, after a few minutes of non-descript play, when Praskevicius went off with an injury. Fortunately for the home team, he was able to return quickly and lead Oostende to a 19-15 lead after 10 minutes. That edge disappeared quickly, however, as Niksa Prkacin and Matej Mamic started getting to the hoop for Cibona, leading a 10-0 run early in the second quarter. That gave the visitors a 21-27 lead, a swing of 11 points on the scoreboard in a matter of minutes. Oostende did not disappear, however. It worked its way back little by little until young sparkplug point guard Gerrit Major could pull off the kind of play that inspires teams. At his own end of the court as time ran out in the second quarter, Major stepped on the foulline and sent the ball sailing across three-quarters of the court. Boom! It went through, and suddenly the scoreboard read 37-37, a brand new ballgame. Praskevicius was going strong with 12 points at that stage, while Prkacin and Mamic shared high scoring honors with 9 each for Cibona.
Sesar took over after halftime, breaking down the Oostende perimeter defense and hitting his shots as Cibona steadily climbed ahead. The shooting guard would finish the quarter with 10 points himself, while Oostende found it more and more difficult to score. By the end of the quarter, Cibona was ahead 55-62. Oostende thought it had turned the scoring corner in the early fourth quarter with a pair of three-pointers by Teo Cizmic, but it was a mirage. Once again, Cibona held their hosts to under 20 points in 10 minutes, while keeping up enough scoring of its own to guard a safe lead throughout.
Wednesday, January 9, 2002