Tau Ceramica became the first road winner of the season in Zagreb on Thursday when it outlasted Cibona 72-78 after 40 minutes of intensity at the Drazen Petrovic Center. The victory moves Tau into a tie for first place in Group D with CSKA, while Cibona sits beside Olympiacos with one loss each after one game. Arvydas Macijauskas hit a three-pointer with 36 seconds left that settled a back-and-forth battle. Macijauskas had strong first and fourth quarters on his way to 18 points and 4 assists, while Luis Scola missed just one shot and finished with 18 as well. Kornel David was Tau's only other scorer in double digits with 17 points. For Cibona, Slaven Rimac and Adrija Zizic each finished with 20 points but no one else scored more than 8. Tau led throughout the first half, but Cibona came back in the third quarter thanks to Rimac and Zizic. Neither side shot the ball well, as Tau finished 4 of 15 from long range and Cibona, the Euroleague's leading three-point shooting team, made just 2 of 11 attempts.
Offensive ineptitude reigned supreme through the game's first 5 minutes as Cibona started off 0 for 10 from the field with 5 turnovers and Tau jumped out to a 0-9 lead behind Macijauskas's 4 points, 2 steals and an assist. Before things got ugly, Cibona ran off an 8-2 run as Rimac broke the ice with two baskets and Jurica Golemac scored 4 more to make it 8-13 in the 9th minute. Tau struggled to find the bottom of the net in the final minutes of the quarter, but their swarming defense gave them an 8-13 edge as Andres Nocioni missed a triple before the buzzer.
Scola gave Tau a boost to start the second quarter, scoring twice to push the guests' lead to 8-17. Cibona kept pace, making 4 straight free throws, but David scored 4 points of his own and Tau held a 14-23 lead in the 14th minute. Cibona, the Euroleague's top three-point shooting team didn't make their first three-poitner until Rimac ended the drought in the 15th minute. Rimac then scored on a layup and point guard Davor Kus knotted the score 25-25 immediately after entering the game. Tau finished the half with a 0-9 run that was cut off by Kus, whose 3 points made the score 28-34 at halftime.
The game tightend in the third as Rimac caught fire for Cibona. The guard finally found space in Tau's tight defense and led Cibona back in the opening minutes of the second half. Tau's offense stalled meanwhile as they couldn't knock down their three-point attempts. After Tau got Rimac under control, Cibona caught up at the end of the quarter thanks to an offesive outburst by Zizic who tied the score at 48-48 in the 27th minute of action. Scola kept Tau close with his effecitve shooting from the field and the free throw line, but a final basket by Kus gave Cibona a 53-52 lead at the quarter's end.
David brought Tau back into the lead, scoring from inside and outside in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Zizic answered, but Macijauskas drilled his first triple of the game for a 56-59 edge. Several lead changes followed but Tau built a 62-66 edge in the 35 minute after Jose Manuel Calderon burried a triple and David sank another jumper. Cibona knotted the game 68-68 moments later on back-to-back buckets by Josip Vrankovic, causing Tau to call a timeout. Tau outscored Cibona 3-7 in the minute after the timeout and Macijauskas' second triple gave the guests a 70-74 lead. Rimac answered for Cibona with a layup but it was too little, as Tau knocked down 4 straight free throws in the final minute of play to take a 72-78 victory.
Thursday, March 4, 2004