Cibona downing Armani Jeans Milano 100-91 at home
Cibona shook off consecutive losses in Group B by downing Armani Jeans Milano 100-91 at home in Zagreb, Croatia on Wednesday. Cibona improved to 2-2 in the group standings, while Milano dropped to 0-4. Larry Ayuso paced the winners with 30 points, including15-for-15 free throw shoting. Sam Hoskin added 18 points and 8 rebounds, Chris Warren had 13 in 15 minutes while Damir Mulaomerovic scored 12 points and dished 5 assists for Cibona. Ansu Sesay led Milano with 24 points. Danilo Gallinari added 20, Travis Watson had 13 and Massimo Bulleri 12. The first half happened to be a run-and-gun show in that Hoskin and Ayuso led a near-perfect Cibona offense to make the hosts get a 53-46 lead at the break. Gallinari and just-signed Melvin Booker brought Milano within 68-65, but Mulaomerovic and Ayuso struck from downtown in a 10-0 run that allowed Cibona to boost its margin to 80-67 after three quarters. Milano did not recover, allowing Cibona to cruise to a much-needed, well-deserved win.
Milano powered the offensive boards in the early going until Sesay got his team going with a layup. Warren answered from downtown for a 3-2 Cibona edge. Milano tried to run its offense through Sesay, who scored in transition before Booker added an acrobatic layup to put Milano back ahead, 3-7. Vedran Vukusic hit free throws for Cibona, but Gallinari answered from downtown, as Watson kept rebounding well at both ends. Sesay boosted the guests with a fallaway jumper, then a triple by Vukusic got Cibona within 10-12. Booker kept Milano scoring with a jumper while Watson rolled off a pick for one basket and then hit a layup off a steal to make it 10-18 and force a Cibona timeout. Little changed immediately as Gallinari soon added free throws and a driving basket to give Milano a 12-22 margin. Cibona called then on veteran Mulaomerovic, who struck from downtown and followed Luksa Andric's jump hook with a driving layup to get the hosts within 19-22. Sesay's layup-plus-free throw and Ayuso's triple cancelled each other out before free throws by Vukusic and a layup by Andric let Cibona regain the lead, 26-25, after 10 minutes.
In the early second quarter, Andric and Hoskin picked up baskets to raise Cibona's lead to 30-26. For Milano, Bulleri got his first basket, a stop-and-pop jumper, but Ayuso bettered it with another triple. Reece Gaines hit a driving layup for Milano, Hoskin answered for Cibona, but red-hot Sesay hit a long two-pointer and Gaines a triple for a 35-35 tie. Gallinari capped a 0-7 run with a corner jumper as Milano went ahead again, but Warren joined the three-point festival to provide another lead change, 38-37. It changed again despite Ayuso's free throws because Watson responded with a dunk and put-back layup at 40-41. Both teams kept trading baskets at full speed: Warren fired again from downtown, Gallinari dunked, and Barisa Krasic scored off an inbounds pass. By the time Warren hit a step-back jumper, it was 49-43 and Milano needed to talk about it. Ayuso and Hoskin made foul shots to give Cibona a double-digit lead, 53-43, but a three-point by play by Booker got Milano within 53-46 at halftime. Cibona's offensive numbers said it all so far: 10-of-14 two-pointers, 7-of-9 triples and 12-of-12 free throws.
Cibona improved its defense after the break while Warren buried a tough jumper for a 55-46 lead. Booker quickly answered in transition, but as Milano switched to a 2-3 zone defense, Hoskin broke it with a driving layup. Gallinari rescued Milano's offense with a three-pointer but Hoskin matched it with a dunk-and-free throw, good for a 60-50 Cibona margin. Gallinari insisted from downtown and Bulleri copied him soon after that to give the guests some hope at 62-56. Sesay hit free throws and then matched Barisa Krasic's triple with another shot from beyond the arc. It was 65-61 and MIlano was closing in until Hoskin's three-point play let Cibona breathe. But Milano was surging, as Gallinari's free throws and Watson scoring inside made it 68-65. Ayuso, however, beat the guests' zone with a triple while Mulamerovic soon added another. Ayuso closed what became a 10-0 Cibona run with a driving basket, good for a 78-65 Cibona lead that held at 80-67 after 30 minutes.
Mindaugas Katelynas tried to ignit the guests' comeback early in the fourth quarter but Marin Rozic and a corner triple by Andric boosted Cibona's lead to 85-70 with 7 minutes to go. Rozic dunked it off a midcourt steal, making coach Attilio Caja call timeout at 87-70. Milano needed a miracle rally now, as Cibona opted to finally slow down its offense to keep its lead alive. Sesay nailed his second three-pointer but Ayuso finished a second-chance Cibona offense with free throws for a 89-73 Cibona lead. Milano kept struggling to score and both teams already fought for points differential once the outcome was clear. Sesay kept trying for Milano with a corner triple and a high-flying dunk for a 89-78 deficit. Ayuso made more foul shots off a Cibona timeout but Pietro Aradori got the guests even closer, 91-81. Nothing changed in the final 2 minutes, as even when Milano kept trying, it happened to be too little, too late for the guests, as Ayuso followed a jumper with an acrobatic three-point play to make Cibona seal the win in style.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007