Cedevita celebrates Top 16 spot despite losing to Milan
Cedevita Zagreb made history on Friday by advancing to the Top 16 for the first time despite losing 82-85 to EA7 Emporio Armani Milan. The result put Cedevita’s record at 4-5 and Milan’s at 3-6, but because Cedevita had won by 9 when the teams played in Round 4 in Italy, the home team claimed the tiebreaker that ensured it would finish among the top four teams in Group B. Miro Bilan scored 23 points and dished 6 assists to pace Cedevita, while Marko Arapovic played a big role in the third quarter and finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Jacob Pullen added 11 points and 7 assists for the hosts. Robbie Hummel led Milan with 21 points and 8 rebounds, Jamel McLean added 15 points, Kruno Simon tallied 13 points and 7 assists and Milan Macvan scored 10. Milan led by as many as 16 in the second quarter and was up 31-45 at halftime. The teenage Arapovic kept Cedevita in it in the third quarter and Bilan in the fourth before Fran Pilepic’s late threes gave the tiebreaker to Cedevita.
First quarter: McLean fuels 0-10 Milan charge
The offenses flowed early with Bilan assisting Karlo Zganec to get the hosts going and Andrea Cinciarini driving for a Milan layup. Nemanja Gordic found Zganec for a layup and Bilan buried a baseline jumper to make it 6-2. Kruno Simon buried a three from the right wing and McLean hit a long jumper to give the visitors their first lead. Cinciarini created space for McLean to detonate a two-handed slam – and the bonus free throw that came with it – for a 6-10 lead after five minutes. McLean made it a 0-10 run with his next basket. James White’s put-back ended a nearly four-minute long drought, however McLean responded with a three-point play to give him 10 points already. Crisp Cedevita passing resulted in a Bilan slam, but Stanko Barac dunked on the next play. After a pair of White free throws, Simon answered with a three-point play for a 12-20 Milan advantage. Henry Walker hit free throws and White found Luka Zoric for a slam, but McLean scored in the paint again. An Oliver Lafayette steal led to a Hummel triple and a 9-point lead, but Pullen free throws made it 18-25 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Macvan comes off the bench to boost visitors
Lafayette sank a floater and Hummel drew an offensive foul from Pullen at the other end. Pullen and Hummel traded threes. Pullen’s layup in transition closed the deficit to 23-30. Hummel countered with free throws and Jenkins went hard to the rim for a layup and a double-digit lead. Bilan scored and – after Simon’s third foul – Luka Babic added a free throw. Cinciarini drove for a nifty three-point play and Macvan took a great pass from McLean for a basket and foul and a 26-40 cushion. Babic connected from downtown for the hosts, but soon took a seat with 3 fouls. Macvan added points from the line and then a three-pointer that gave the visitors a 16-point advantage. Bilan’s free throws made it 31-45 at the break.
Third quarter: Arapovic heats up to revive Cedevita
White found Marko Arapovic for a slam on a broken play and then Arapovic sent a great pass to Bilan for a three-point play to trim the deficit to 9, but Milan countered with a Jenkins triple and a Bruno Cerella layup. Arapovic connected on a three and White scored in the lane. Arapovic helped on a steal and then dunked to make it 43-50. Bilan capped a 9-0 run that brought the crowd to life. Threes by Hummel and Jenkins restored a double-digit Milan advantage. But White hit a jumper and Babic ended a break with a triple to bring the hosts within 51-56. After a Milan timeout, Simon hit a deep three-pointer. Then Hummel scored inside and Barac hit a jumper. Cedevita did not fold as Arapovic hit from downown, but he then fouled Hummel shooting a three and the Milan forward made the 3 shots. He made up for that with a three to make it 57-66.
Fourth quarter: Pilepic’s threes start the celebrations
Fran Pilepic missed twice from behind the arc, but Pullen drove through the paint for a basket and foul. McLean countered with a three-point play for his first points since the first quarter to restore a 10-point Milan advantage. Lafayette banked a shot, but soon McLean committed his fourth foul. Bilan scored inside, but Simon drained a triple. Arapovic dunked, however Hummel hit a jumper. Bilan’s tip in was bettered by Hummel from downtown to make it 66-79. Bilan remained Cedevita’s go-to guy with another basket and then 2 free throws. Macvan and Pullen traded scores as the game clearly became about the tiebreaker. Babic’s steal led to a Pilepic triple that drew Cedevita within 75-81. Simon split free throws and Pullen missed twice from the line. Jenkins’s jumper was waived off after replays showed it came after the 24-second clock expired. Pilepic hit a three from the corner and after if that didn’t clinch a Top 16 berth, his free throws to make it 80-82 with 16 seconds left surely did. Lafayette nailed a three, but Bilan’s slam set off the Cedevita celebrations.
Friday, December 11, 2015