In a game mostly played for bragging rights between old rivals, Cibona defeated visiting Partizan 85-76 on Wednesday to continue its drive to finish third in Group C. Cibona led from wire to wire except for one possession in the third minute, after which it made a run that established big leads for most of the game. The victory lifted Cibona's record to 8-5 despite the absence of two injured scorers, Gerald Fitch and Branimir Longin. Partizan, also beset by injuries, fell to 2-11. Cibona showed good distribution, getting 13 points each from Damir Omerhodzic, Josip Sesar, Marin Rozic and Marko Popovic. Josko Poljak added 10 for the winners. For Partizan, Luka Bogdanovic was top gun with 18 points, while Kosta Perovic put up 15, Blake Stepp and Uros Tripkovic 13 each.
The home team broke the game open with a 12-0 run, starting 3 minutes into the opening quarter, that supplied a 27-10 lead. Josip Vrankovic scored all 9 of his points in the quarter, while Omerhodzic and Sesar, who hit twice from downtown, had 8 each in the first 10 minutes.Bogdanovic and Stepp kept Partizan from collapsing with a 0-7 run in the last 2 minutes of the quarter, which nonetheless ended with Cibona ahead 28-17. The second quarter proved crucial for the home team. Rozic scored 12 out of his 13 points, including 2 triples, and Josko Polajk 8 out of his 10, all of which made the difference. Rozic made a three-point shot to take Cibona to it's biggest lead, 50-32, when halftime arrived.
Partizan opened the second half with a 2-10 response, as Stepp opened from three-point range and the difference was cut to 52-42. Popovic and Omerhodzic restored the big lead with three-pointers of their own, and Cibona was once again back on track, leading by 17, 66-49. The young and talented Partizan team never gave up, however, as Boris Bakic and Tripkovic got the guests back within 11 points, 69-58, at the end of the third quarter.
And Partizan was not done yet. For the first time since minute 4 after opening tipoff, Perovic got the gap below 10 points, 69-61, early in the fourth quarter. Vladimir Krstic with three points gave Cibona some breathing space once again at 74-61, but Partizan kept comming back. Four minutes before the end, Tripkovic made a three-point shot to bring his team within 6 points, 74-68. And once more Perovic gave hope to Partizan, but 5 points, at 79-74, was as close as the visitors got. The last chance came and went when Peter Bozic and Stepp missed open three.points shots in the final 2 minutes. Petar Popovic scored 3 out of 4 free throws to seal the deal, and get Cibona out of trouble, still looking to nail down third place in the Group A standings.
Wednesday, February 2, 2005