Cibona took the big showdown between undefeated teams in Group A by downing Olympiacos
85-76 in Zagreb, Croatia on Thursday night. Cibona is now the only unbeaten team in Group A with a 3-0 record. Cibona used outstanding team defense and great intensity to win its third consecutive Euroleague game. Cibona has not won its first three games in the top European competition since the 1996-97 season, when it topped Estudiantes, Spirou Charleroi and Alba Berlin for a 3-0 record. Earl Calloway paced the winners with 17 points. Rawle Marshall contributed 15, Niksa Prkacin added 13 and Davor Kus had 11 for Cibona. Lynn Greer and Ioannis Bourousis each had 14 points for Olympiacos, while Georgios Printezis added 11 for the Reds, who led 15-20 early in the second quarter. Cibona improved its defense and found its scoring references in Kus and Marshall, who pushed the hosts to a 39-28 halftime lead. An outstanding Calloway helped Cibona boost its margin to 59-42 late in the third quarter. Olympiacos got within 78-74 already in the final minute but free-throw accuracy allowed Cibona to seal a big win.
Vedran Vukusic got Cibona going with a power layup, while Olympiacos tried to get Nikola Vujcic involved in the opening minutes. Milos Teodosic stepped up with a floater, but Marin Rozic scored off a steal for a 4-2 Cibona edge. Olympiacos kept struggling to score and did not lock the defensive rebounds either. Vukusic finished a second-chance offense with a triple, but Vujcic fed Yotam Halperin for an alley-oop layup. Kus took over with a wide open three-pointer while Prkacin added a jump hook to boost the hosts' lead to 12-4. Vujcic shined with a layup-plus-foul while Theo Papaloukas stepped on court and found space for a driving layup. Earl Calloway and Bourousis traded free throws, but Olympiacos had improved its defense. Childress provided a highlight with a fast break dunk before Greer struck from downtown to give the Reds their first lead, 14-16. A tip-in by Zoran Erceg capped a 2-14 run and fixed the score at 14-18 after 10 minutes.
Olympiacos kept rolling early in the second quarter with Papaloukas keeping everyone involved. He fed Bourousis for a reverse layup to make it a five-point game. Kus and Marshall quickly answered from downtown to put Cibona back ahead, 21-20. Cibona was much more aggressive on defense now, while Marshall buried another triple for a 24-20 lead, after a 9-0 run. Childress stepped up with a three-point play, but a five-meter jumper by Jared Homan kept Cibona ahead, 26-23. Olympiacos head coach Panagiotis Giannakis tried to change the game rhythm with Sofoklis Schortsianitis on court, but Vedran Princ joined the three-point shootout and Marshall added an outstanding fast break basket to force the Reds to call timeout at 31-24. Homan scored in the low post and soon banked in a jumper to give Cibona its first double-digit lead, 35-25. Olympiacos could not find its way to the basket, while Marshall fed Prkacin for an easy basket that capped an 11-1 Cibona run. Printezis buried a triple, but free throws by Prkacin allowed Cibona to take a 39-28 lead to the locker room.
Bourousis tried to ignite the guests' comeback right after the break, but Vukusic and Kus sank free throws for a 44-29 Cibona lead. Once again Vukusic scored in a quick transition to make it a 17-point game. Teodosic struck from downtown, igniting a 0-7 Olympiacos run that Printezis capped with a corner triple to give the Reds some hope. Kus sank his third triple and Calloway added foul shots to give Cibona some fresh air at 51-38. Bourousis stepped up with consecutive baskets, but Calloway took over with an incredible fallaway jumper. Greer made free throws but an unstoppable Calloway followed a seven-meter bomb with free throws to boost his team's lead to 59-42. Printezis and Greer sank foul shots but Calloway answered with more free throws and had a huge block on Erceg. Bouroussis and Erceg combined for 5 quick points to cause Cibona to call timeout at 61-51. Robert Troha and Marshall hit consecutive triples, but Papaloukas kept Olympiacos within 67-55 after 30 minutes.
Olympiacos needed a quick comeback to keep its options alive, while Cibona tried to use long possessions without any success early in the fourth quarter. Vujcic stepped up with a jump hook for a 67-57 Olympiacos deficit. Papaloukas fed Vujcic for an easy basket and Cibona called a much-needed timeout at 67-59. Cibona had been scoreless for more than three minutes before Marshall made a free throw. Childress took over with a power layup while Greer sank a stop-and-pop jumper to bring the Reds back in the game at 68-63. Prkacin stepped up with a reverse layup and then finished a three-chance Cibona offense with a basket-plus-foul that sealed the outcome, 73-63, with three minutes to go. Greer sank a triple, but Homan and Rozic kept Cibona way ahead, 76-66. Printezis insisted from downtown, but it was already too little, too late, as a fully-packed Drazen Petrovic Basketball Center was already celebrating yet another big home win.
Thursday, November 6, 2008