Aris TT Bank is still undefeated atop Group B after surviving a game-long challenge by Cibona to win their showdown 77-73 on Wednesday in Thessaloniki, Greece. Aris raised its record to 3-0 and will retain at least a share of first place in the group, while Cibona fell to 1-2. Cibona led for much of the last three quarters before a series of late-game mistakes cost the visitors. Cibona had led by 60-65 midway through the final quarter, but with just over a minute left, Aris forward Reyshawn Terry found himself for the game-tying put-back at 70-70. With 40 seconds left, Cibona intentionally fouled Jeremiah Massey who made both free throws while Terrell Castle added another on the ensuing possession. Next, it was Terry who was intentionally fouled and his free throws sealed the Aris rally and victory. Massey was unstoppable, amassing 28 points on 12-for14 two-point shooting and pulling 11 rebounds for the winners. Terry and Dimitrios Tsaldaris added 10 points each for Aris. Tre Kelley was the big gun for Cibona, with 15 points and 4 assists. Chris Warren and Larry Ayuso added 13 each and Damir Mulaomerovic came off the bench for 10 more.
Massey broke into the scoring column first for Aris by netting a mid-range jumper to which Bracey Wright added the first shot from beyond the arc, making it 5-0. Cibona used the same combo - a layup by Hoskin and Ayuso's first triple - to tie 5-5. After 3 scoreless minutes, Hanno Motolla scored free throws to make it 11-7 Aris. Kelley buried his team's second triple plus his first layup to tie it up again, 12-12. Ayuso then stood up and nailed another triple to give the guests the lead at 15-17 but Terry came out from the bench and gave Aris fresh air with a jumper and a dunk. Fittingly for a close quarter, Kelley drove to the basket to beat the the buzzer and tie it again, 21-21 after 10 minutes.
Aris head coach Gordon Herbert changed his whole starting five to start the second quarter, but Ayuso still found room to fire again from the three-point line to take back the lead for Cibona. Chris Warren broke another tie with a pair of free throws at 25-27, after which both teams remained scoreless for a couple of possessions. Warren added to his team's lead from the line and Barisa Krasic drove to the basket to cap a 1-7 Cibona run and force an Aris timeout at 26-31. No matter, Krasic struck again from downtown to create his team's biggest margin yet, 26-34, as Cibona's offensive confidence soared. Wright tried to trim the difference with back-to-back jumpers at 31-36, but Mulaomeovic stepped up with a pair of steals and fastbreak layups to keep the guests on the rise, 33-40 at halftime.
Nothing changed early in the third quarter as Hoskin hit another jumper and Mulaomerovic drove to the basket to preserve their team's lead. Massey finished a couple of his well-known post moves to reduce the damage to 37-46, and when Mottola copied him, Cibona head coach Josip Vrankovic asked for a timeout. Aris came off the bench thebn with a different attitude and quickly evened the game thanks to a 10-0 run capped by a Tsaldaris layup and a Massey dunk, giving the hosts the lead back after 15 minutes without it, 47-46. Cibona shook off its scoring drought in a big way, starting with Hoskin's tip-in and Warren's dunk in transition. Luksa Andric then finished the visitors' 0-8 run with his team ahead again by 47-54. Massey reacted again and tried to wake up his team with a pair of key baskets but Marin Rozic boosted Cibona again with a pair of scores and Hoskin added another preserve a seven-point advantage, 54-61, after 30 minutes.
Rozic opened the final quarter with a layup to lengthen the Cibona lead, after which Terry missed his first free throw in three Euroleague games. Aris needed to respond and Tsaldaris sparked the hosts with his first triple while Simonas Serapinas dunked to cut the margin to 60-63. Mulaomerovic gave fresh air to Cibona with a layup in the middle of the quarter and Ayuso netted an unbelievable jumper to establish another commanding lead, 61-67. Massey put Aris on his shoulders now, hitting back-to-back hooks to make it 65-68. Castle then hit free throws to make it even closer, 67-68, with 3 minutes to go. The Aris defense forced Ayuso into a turnover, after which Terry scored 1 of 2 from the line to tie it up again, 68-68. After Warren got Cibona in front again, Terry was left alone for a rebound at the end of the shot-clock that he put back for a new tie, 70-70. Next, when Aris got the ball inside to Massey, the refs whistled a flagrant foul on Hoskin. Massey was perfect, putting his team in charge, 72-70, 30 seconds before the end. When Terry blocked Warren's next drive and went to the line on another flagrant foul call, he sealed the victory and an ongoing perfect record for Aris.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007