Unicaja keeps fighting to win Group A by edging Cibona 76-77 in Zagreb, Croatia on Thursday night. Unicaja improved to 7-2 and keeps its chances to become a top-seeded team in the Top 16 Draw. Meanwhile, Cibona dropped to 5-4 but is already qualified to the Top 16. Marcus Haislip led the winners with 14 points. Boniface Ndong posted a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds while Jiri Welsch and Omar Cook each had 10 points for Unicaja. Alan Anderson had 19 points in his first Euroleague game with Cibona. Davor Kus added 13 while Earl Calloway got 11 for the hosts. A three-pointer by Vedran Vukusic gave Cibona a 21-18 edge after 10 minutes. An outstanding Anderson allowed Cibona to boost its margin to double-digits, 44-34, right before halftime. Unicaja improved its defense in the fourth quarter while German Gabriel and Cook struck from downtown in a 0-14 run that put the guests ahead for good, 62-69. Anderson and Kus brought Cibona with 76-77 and the hosts had a last chance, but Niksa Prkacin missed a layup seconds before the final buzzer.
Anderson needed 45 seconds to get Cibona going with a three-pointer in his first Euroleague shot this season. Carlos Jimenez answered from downtown for a 3-3 tie. Unicaja tried to power the offensive board with Haislip, Jimenez and Robert Archibald together on court. Luksa Andric, however, stepped up with a layup-plus-foul while Anderson scored oof a steal for a 8-3 Cibona lead. Archibald made free throws that Andric erased with a power layup. Haislip took over with a three-pointer to get Unicaja within 10-8. Kus shined with a driving layup that Haislip improved with an outstanding dunk-and-foul. Kus insisted with a stop-and-pop jumper but a red hot Haislip struck again from downtown to tie it at 14-14. Calloway nailed a six-meter jumper while Anderson added a driving layup for a 18-15 Cibona edge. Jiri Welsch and Vukusic traded triples to fix the score at 21-18 at the end of the first quarter.
Marin Rozic fired in a seven-meter bomb to boost the hosts' lead to 24-18 early in the second quarter. Ndong made free throws that Carlos Cabezas followed
with a three-point play in a 0-7 run that Berni Rodriguez capped with a layup to give Unicaja its first lead, 24-25. Ndong had a huge block on Rozic but
Vukusic stepped up for Cibona with free throws. Jimenez and Prkacin traded three-pointers while back-to-back fast break baskets by Calloway gave Cibona
a 33-28 edge. Calloway took over with a wild three-point play but Haislip scored in penetration to get Unicaja back on track. Rozic sank free throws that
Haislip erased with a power layup. Cibona kept dominating the defensive board with Homan and Bruno Sundov on court now. Jared Homan made foul shots that Cook
matched with a driving layup. Anderson followed a put-back basket with free throws to give Cibona its first double-digit lead, 44-34. Free throws by Thomas Kelati - his first points - got Unicaja within 44-36 at halftime.
Both teams traded missed shots after the break until Ndong stepped up with a free throw. Kus shined with a reverse layup that Ndong erased in the other end. Cibona kept dominating the boards but Unicaja was a different team in defense now, diving for loose balls and much more intense. Cibona had entered the foul bonus so Unicaja opted to attack the basket. Cabezas sank free throws but Andric erased it with a jump hook and soon gave Cibona a 49-42 margin. Rodriguez fed Ndong for an alleyoop dunk but Anderson answered with foul shots and Kus added a floating layup. Cabezas and Archibald kept pacing Unicaja with more foul shots but Cibona stayed focused, as Rozic finished a second-chance offense with a corner triple. Rodriguez and Sundov traded free throws but Unicaja kept struggling to find open shots. Sundov kept pacing Cibona with a second-chance layup but a big triple by Cook made it a six-point game, 59-53, after three quarters.
Welsch sank a long two-pointer early in the fourth period but Sundov immediately answered from downtown to keep Cibona out of trouble, 62-55. Unicaja tried to open the court with Gabriel on the floor. Meanwhile, Kelati made free throws while Welsch added a put-back basket for a 62-59 deficit. Ndong followed a jumper with a huge alleyoop dunk to put Unicaja back ahead, 62-63. Cibona kept struggling to score while Gabriel and Cook capped a 0-14 run with back-to-back three-pointers for a 62-69 Unicaja margin with over 4 minutes to go. Anderson answered from downtown while Ndong and Homan traded free throws for a 66-70 score. Archibald took over with a reverse layup and soon added a free throw for a 66-73 Unicaja lead with 2 minutes remaining. Calloway rescued Cibona with a fast break layup but a three-pointer by Kelati seemed to seal the outcome, 68-75. Anderson, however, answered from downtown while a jump ball situation gave Cibona an extra possession. Kus buried a triple for a 74-75 Cibona deficit with 17.5 seconds to go. Cook sank free throws that Kus erased with a layup. Unicaja committed a turnover, giving Cibona the last possession with 7.2 seconds remaining. Prkacin missed around the basket while Cabezas grabbed the rebound and raced downcourt until the final buzzer, allowing Unicaja to get a crucial road win.
Thursday, January 8, 2009