Larry Middleton and Scavolini provided one of the best and most amazing finishes in Euroleague history on Wednesday by scoring four straight three-pointers in less than a minute to win 71-74 at Cibona Zagreb. The victory boosted Scavolini to 6-3 and a tie for second place in Group D that confirms the Italian team's aspirations for the Top 16. It also lef Cibona and its fans in Zagreb shocked at a such a sudden demise and the certain knowledge that at 2-7, only a miracle can help the Croatian champions finish in the top four of the group. For Cibona, Josip Sesar and Dino Radja had 18 points each. The miracle on Wednesday fell squarely on Scavolini's side, however. The winners were led by Melvin Booker with 19 points. Miroslav Beric helped with 16 points And of course there was the miraculous Middleton, with 15 points all on threes, and most of those in an unbelievable final minute.
Melvin Booker started that minute with his own three-pointer to cut Cibona's edge to 68-65. Sesar then made a free throw at 46 secunds. Booker conected from downtown 32 seconds before the end (69-68). Reggie Freeman on 25 seconds made both free throws to put the home team back up by three, 71-68. Then came Middleton, tying the game with just 12 seconds showing with a shot that rocketed into the backboard and found the net. Cibona had one last chance, but a Matej Mamic turnover, at 7.7 seconds, opend the door for Scavolini, which had never never led. Middleton took a pass from Booker and nailed Cibona's coffin at 1.8 seconds. Nothing but net. 71-74. There was a desperation shot by Branimir Longin at the buzzer, but it missed. Game over.
Cibona started with a 12-0 run and Josip Sesar scored 9 points for a huge 48-32 halftime lead that suggested Cibona might give itself a Christmas present. It was a long time in coming. Cibona had lost five straight in Euroleague stretchng back to October. But Cibona, onca again proved vulnerable in the second half. The same story, but with a more shocking outcama. Cibona was up by 20 against Asvel and lost, too. This time, Cibona scored 48 points in the first half, only 21 in second. Cibona went for 7 minutes in fourth quarter without a field goal. Cibona scored only 15 points in 17 minutes of the second half. Not even Radja, with 18 points and 11 rebounds, could help. Cibona lost its six straight, and all three since aquiring Radja.
Wednesday, December 19, 2001