Cibona took an important step towards reaching the Top 16 from difficult Group B by downing archrivals Partizan 89-72 in a sold-out Drazen Petrovic Basketball Center in Zagreb, Croatia on Thursday. Cibona improved to 5-6 and took sole possession of fourth place in the Group B standings. Meanwhile, Partizan joins a three-way tie for fifth place with Lottomatica Roma and Unicaja, all at 4-7. Should it be needed, Cibona also earned a tie-break advantage over Partizan with Thursday's win. Brent Wright paced the winners with 16 points. Chris Warren and Andrew Wisniewski each added 14 while Davor Kus had 12 for Cibona. Predrag Drobnjak had 20 points for Partizan while Kosta Perovic added 12. Drobnjak and Vonteego Cummings helped Partizan to get a 52-58 edge midway through the third quarter. Wright, Kus and Warren fueled a game-breaking 20-6 run that allowed Cibona to cruise to a big home win.
Warren got Cibona going with a left-handed layup, as Partizan went scoreless in the opening 2 minutes. Meanwhile, Wisniewski buried a six-meter jumper for a 4-0 Cibona lead. Cummings rescued Partizan with a three-pointer and Drobnjak added free throws to give the guests their first lead, 4-5. Wright shined with a jump hook but Drobnjak did better with a layup-plus-foul. Warren fed Marton Bader for an easy dunk that Novica Velickovic erased with a mid-range jumper. Wisniewski nailed another long two-pointer, as Cibona kept the right attitude in defense. Wright stepped up with a floating jumper and soon added a fast break basket for a 14-10 Cibona edge after 7 minutes. Dusan Kecman took over with a three-point play and Perovic dunked, but Kus and Wright kept the hosts ahead, 18-15. A free throw by Milenko Tepic brought the guests within 18-16 at the end of the first quarter.
Tripkovic came off the bench in the start of the second quarter and immediately buried a triple. Wisniewski answered from downtown but Nikola Pekovic dunked it to tie the game, 21-21. Barisa Krasic hit a jumper in transition and soon added free throws to make Cibona regain the lead, 25-22. Petar Bozic banked in a three-pointer while Luksa Andric and Drobnjak exchanged jumpers for a 27-27 tie after 14 minutes. Drobnjak buried a seven-meter triple, as Partizan denied any easy shots now. Cibona called timeout and Andric scored inside but Kecman fired in his second three-pointer to give the guests a 29-33 edge. Kus hit free throws that Cummings matched them with a coast-to-coast layup. Marin Rozic followed Jurica Zuza's foul shots with an easy layup. Pekovic stepped up with a put-back basket while Luka Bogdanovic beat the buzzer with a wild step-back triple to give Partizan a 41-42 halftime edge.
Drobnjak paced Partizan after the break, burying a three-pointer and feeding Pekovic for an easy dunk. Wright stepped up with a mid-range jumper but Bogdanovic fired in one from downtown to give Partizan a 43-50 lead. Warren nailed a jumper from the right wing that Wisniewski followed with a wild basket-plus-foul to bring Cibona back to life, 48-50. Cummings scored in penetration and then followed Perovic's dunk with a high-flying tip-in. Kus nailed consecutive jumpers and soon added a driving layup to bring the hosts within 54-58. Cibona battled for every loose ball now and it paid off. Warren hit free throws while Wright added a three-point play to make the hosts regain the lead, 59-58. Partizan kept struggling to score while Marton Bader capped a 9-0 Cibona run with a long jumper. Drobnjak made free throws, but a layup by Andric and more foul shots by Kus allowed the hosts to get a 65-62 lead after 30 minutes.
Warren kept Cibona's momentum going with a jumper but Tripkovic copied him in the other end for a 67-64 Partizan deficit. Andric fired in one from downtown while Warren scored in penetration to make the Drazen Petrovic Basketball Center go wild. Partizan called timeout and Kecman hit a jumper but Bader copied him for a 74-66 Cibona lead with 6 minutes to go. Wisniewski took over with a driving basket and soon added free throws to break the game for good, 78-66. Partizan kept missing one shot after another against Cibona's aggressive defense, while Warren hit another jumper which capped a 13-2 run. By the time Drobnjak scored inside, Partizan only fought for points differential, as it beat Cibona by 9 points in Belgrade. Wright shined with a three-point play and Rozic added a layup which allowed all Cibona fans in the stands to celebrate a well-deserved win.
Thursday, January 11, 2007