| Cibona opened the 2008-09 Euroleague in resounding fashion by downing last season’s runner-up Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 81-79 in Group A on Thursday. It was a special game for Cibona, which paid homage to world basketball icon, the late Drazen Petrovic, in the arena named after him on the night after what would have been his 44th birthday. Cibona visits Le Mans next week while Maccabi welcomes Avellino to Tel Aviv in Game 2. Davor Kus led the winners with 23 points and Rawle Marshall added 20 while Nikola Prkacin had 14 before fouling out for Cibona. D'Or Fischer led Maccabi with 26 points on 11-for-12 shooting. Lior Eliyahu added 14 and Carlos Arroyo had 10 for the guests, despite struggling from the field (2 for 13). Three-pointers by Kus, Marin Rozic and Marshall helped Cibona take a 20-17 edge after 10 minutes, but Yaniv Green and Fischer stepped up for Maccabi, which tied the game at halftime 36-36. Cibona found its go-to guys in Prkacin and Marshall after the break to build a 54-45 lead late in the third. Maccabi threatened and cut the gap to 3, but Kus took over in the final minutes with a reverse layup, free throws and a key three-pointer that sealed the outcome in the final two minutes.
Fischer got Maccabi going with free throws as Cibona struggled to score in the opening two minutes. Eliyahu added a fastbreak layup for a 0-4 Maccabi edge before Marin Rozic stepped up with a jump hook for Cibona. Fischer sank a five-meter jumper and added a tip-in, but Prkacin answered with a pair of baskets to keep Cibona within 6-8. Cibona got its shooters involved as Kus and Rozic sank three-pointers for a 12-8 lead. Fischer kept pacing Maccabi with another basket, but Kus answered from downtown. An unstoppable Fischer scored again and Tal Burstein added a fast break basket to keep Maccabi close. Marcus Brown came off the bench to score his 600th free throw in career history - and his first point with Maccabi. Prkacin and Esteban Batista traded layups before Marshall buried a step-back triple for a 20-17 Cibona edge after 10 minutes.
Prkacin hit his trademark jump hook early in the second quarter, but Maccabi kept getting Fischer involved and he immediately delivered with a power layup. Even with that Luksa Andric made free throws and then Jared Homan gave the hosts a 7-point lead. Omri Casspi stepped up with a put-back basket, but another Maccabi turnover allowed Marshall to give Cibona a 28-21 edge. Yaniv Green took over with an off-balance shot, which Andric matched with an easy layup. Arroyo followed with an incredible four-point play that ignited the visitors and Fischer added a jumper to bring Maccabi back to life at 30-29. Eliyahu soon scored around the basket to complete the guests' comeback, 31-32. Kus and Rozic tried to change things with free throws, but Green shined with consecutive layups. Kus’s driving layup allowed Cibona to tie the game, 36-36, at halftime.
Maccabi regrouped on defense after the break, playing much more aggressively. At the other end, Fischer made free throws for a 36-38 Maccabi edge. Marshall sank a running triple, but Fischer stayed unstoppable with an alley-oop layup. Prkacin provided a highlight with an outstanding power layup that Fischer erased with a two-handed dunk. Kus scored in transition and fed Prkacin for a layup, good for a 45-42 Cibona edge. Maccabi kept committing turnovers despite slowing down its offense, while a stop-and-pop jumper by Marshall kept Cibona ahead. Andric scored in penetration, Vedran Princ sank a big triple and Kus added a fast break layup to make it a 9-point game late in the period. Maccabi called timeout and Burstein stepped up with free throws that Marshall matched with an impressing driving layup. Eliyahu shined with a put-back basket and Jason Williams buried a corner triple for his first career Euroleague points that got Maccabi within 58-52 heading into the fourth period.
Cibona tried to slow down the game tempo early in the fourth quarter, looking to play even more physical at both ends. Both teams went scoreless for almost two minutes until Marshall made free throws for a 60-52 Cibona margin. Green picked up a loose ball and put it in and Eliyahu added a layup-plus-foul to bring Maccabi back to life at 62-57. Earl Calloway sank a tough jumper and even when Fischer scored again, Marshall helped Cibona regain a 7-point edge. Eliyahu and Brown took over with consecutive layups, but Fischer missed free throws on Prkacin's fifth foul. Kus hit a reverse layup and Marshall nailed a seven-meter bomb to make Maccabi call timeout at 71-63 with under four minutes remaining. Arroyo struck from downtown, but Kus followed free throws with his third triple to make it 76-67, essentially sealing the outcome and allowing all Cibona fans to celebrate a unique win on a very special night for the club.
Thursday, October 23, 2008