The fact that there were no spectators did not diminish the play of either team as AEK of Athens beat Cibona 89-90 on the road in the last week of the regular season of the Euroleague to claim sole possession of second place in Group D. The win improved AEK's record to 9-5 while Cibona dropped to 5-9. The winners were led by JR Holden with 29 points. Mikalis Kakiouzis added 23 and Demos Dikoudis netted 17. For Cibona, both Josip Sesar and Nikola Prkacin had 16 points.
Both teams started strong in the offensive end and aggressive in the defensive, especially Cibona VIP. Unfortunately for the hosts, Holden was having his night (3 of 5 threes in the first half) and together with Demos Dikouidis (15 of his 17 points were scored in the first half) found an answer to all the strategies prepared by coach Jasmin Repesa. The first quarter ended with the guests in the lead by 1 though, 21-22.
Not even a zone defense helped Cibona to stay in the game during the first half, but Darko Krunic scored a two on the half time buzzer and showed that Cibona was not going to give up that easily. More and more, that was the beggining of Cibona's 9-0 run at the start of second half forcing AEK to score for the first time after the 3 minutes in the quarter through free throws and to make their first field goal in the fifth minute of the third quarter. But again Holden, and this time Kakiouzis with 13 points in the second half put the guests ahead again by 10. Last Cibona's run was led by Krunic again who scored 8 straight points with two threes and a jumper to put the game back to a tie.
Unfortunatelly for Cibona Sesar missed two free throws in the last seconds and committed his fifth foul to put Kakiouzis on the line. He wasn't going to miss now after having hit 6 of 6 in the last 30 seconds and 12 of 13 for the entire game and Krunic could only cut down the deficit to 1 points with his last three pointer. AEK was stronger, a more experienced team that played to win and had Holden, Dikoudis and Kakiouzis at their highest level. On the other side, Prkacin played at his best but with litlle help from the others, he was powerless to beat a great AEK by himself.
Wednesday, February 13, 2002