Cibona VIP booked its first-ever Euroleague win in Belgrade by rallying to beat Partizan PMB 78-81 on Thursday in Group A. In six previous Euroleague games between them until Thursday, each had won on its own court. But this crucial result was decided by the hands of Branimir Longin, who scored 3 points from the free throw line in the final seconds to boost Cibona to a 3-3 record, good for a fourth-place tie with Prokom Trefl Sopot, while Partizan dropped into dangerous territory at 1-5. The best scorer for the winning team was Josip Vrankovic with 18 points, while Andrija Zizic added 17 and Marko Popovic 11. Partizan's best scorers were Blake Stepp, who netted 20 points, while Vule Avdalovic scored 18 and Dejan Milojevic 14.
Longin was the coolest man in Pionir Arena as he opened the scoring with a triple. Partizan was not able to stop Zizic, who scored twice as Cibona rumbled to a 7-13 advantage. After a low-tempo 5 minutes, MVP ratings leader Milojevic scored his first point from the line but Vedran Morovic answered with 2 layups and Cibona forced Partizan to call timeout with 8-15 on the scoreboard after 6 minutes. A coast-to-coast basket by Milojevic then initiated a 5-0 Partizan run, but soon Cibona returned the favor with a bomb from Vrankovic. When Zizic added 4 points on free throws, the Cibona lead hit double digits, 13-24. An additional layup by Milojevic is all that kept it from staying so high before Cibona finished the quarter ahead 16-24.
Perovic scored 4 points to heighten hopes in Pionir Arena at the start of the second quarter, but Vrankovic silenced the crowd with a shot from behind the arc, then another for 22-30 scoreboard. Cibona played organized on offense, with a lot of long-distance shots, while Partizan commited many turnovers trying to run. Vrankovic was unstoppable, adding 3 more pointe to reestablish Cibona's double-digit edge at 23-33. Avdalovic's triple started a 7-2 Partizan run that Milojevic finished by dunking in the fastbreak. Down 32-37 now, with 3 minutes left in the first half, Partizan finaly started to play aggresive fullcourt defense and cut the deficit to the minimum, 37-38, on Stepp's three-pointer. In those moments only Popovic kept Cibona on its feet. Milan Gurovic tied the score 45-45 for Partizan before Popovic's 2 free throws let Cibona hold a lead still, 45-47, at the break.
Perovic was whistled for his fourth foul at the beginning of the third quarter. Zizic made the free throws that came wiith and Cibona led 48-51. Stepp had courage to tie with a pair of triples, but Cibona was still in charge because Morovic and Morton Bader scored on fastbreaks. Each team played patient feeling the key moments of the game. Cibona was more succesfull and when Popovic scored another triple, the guests had a 58-64 edge after 28 minutes. Partizan switched to a zone and the result was points from Avdalovic, but after 30 minutes, Cibona still held a small margin, 61-64.
Luka Bogdanovic tied the score with his triple early in the final quarter, but there were few points in next 5 minutes. Partizan called a timeout with Cibona leading 66-68 because Milojevic had to leave with an injury. Each team traded baskets before Gurovic scored 2 and Avdalovic added a bomb for a 72-70 Partizan lead with 3 minutes left. Later, Slobodan Bozovic stole and Avdalovic drew Zizic's fifth foul, but Andrej Stimac tied the score 73-73 from downtown for Cibona. Stepp took reponsibility as Milojevic sat on the bench, hitting his own three-pointer, putting Partizan up 76-75 as the last minute started. Perovic scored on an offensive rebound for 78-75, but Vladimir Krstic hit a huge, game-tying three-pointer for Cibona while falling backwards. Perovic lost the ball, Longin scored 1 of 2 free throws to put Cibona haead, 78-79 and Partizan organized the last attack. When Bozovic missed a game-winning attempt from three-point territory, however, Longin had 2 more chances from the line and made them, sending Cibona home smiling from Belgrade.
Thursday, December 9, 2004