Cibona took a huge step to solidifying its spot in the Euroleague Top 16 with a convincing 89-70 victory at home over Le Mans in Group A. Cibona used a 13-2 run in the third quarter to take control of the game and then never let the guests closer than 12 points in the fourth quarter. Head coach Velimir Perasovic's side improved to 5-2 in the group, while Le Mans is still looking for its first victory after dropping to 0-7. Rawle Marshall led all scorers with 21 points to go along with 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Earl Calloway added 18 points, Marin Rozic hit for 12, Davor Kus had 11 and Nikola Prkacin chipped in 10 points for the winners, who shot 66% from the field. David Bluthenthal paced Le Mans with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Alain Koffi added 14 points and Joao Paulo Batista chipped in 12 in a losing effort.
Koffi grabbed the lead right off the tip-off for Le Mans on a quick layup. Cibona struggled early offensively until Calloway finally got the hosts on the scoreboard with 2 foul shots after nearly two minutes played. Calloway's fade-away and jumper in the lane made it 6-2 before Bluthenthal hit to trim to 6-4. After a Marshall driving layup, Brian Chase nailed a triple to bring Le Mans within 8-7. Both teams swapped baskets before Jared Homan's dunk off a fine interior pass from Vedran Vukusic made it 14-11. Davor Kus converted a three-point play for the biggest lead of the game thus far at 17-11. Koffi hit a layup off the glass and after both teams went a series of possessions without a score, Pape Badiane converted a three-point play to make it 17-16. Two foul shots by Prkacin and one by Marshall offset Maleye NDoye's offensive rebound put-back as Cibona led 20-18 after one period.
The hosts started the second quarter with some fine passing work around the perimeter with Rozic knocking down a three-pointer to make it 23-18. And it was 25-20 after Prkacin hit an inside layup after a fine pass from Luksa Andric. Bluthenthal sandwiched three-pointers around a Kus layup to bring Le Mans within 27-26, and Badiane knocked down a long jumper for a 27-28 Le Mans lead - resulting in Cibona boss Perasovic calling a timeout. The crafty veteran Prkacin hit a tough lefty inside shot to regain the lead for the hosts, but Antoine Diot and Bluthethal both made layups as Le Mans led 29-32. After Kus and Batista swapped 2 foul shots, Marshall hit a tough layup in the post only to miss the chance to convert the three-point play and knot the game. But he gave Cibona back the lead with a triple from the left wing and made it 38-34 with 2 free throws. Koffi followed with 2 foul shots and then a steal and break-away layup to even the game again, 38-38. But Marshall was left wide open on the wing and drained a three-ball to make it 41-38. French youngsters Diot and Jeremy Leloup converted just 1 of 5 free throws in cutting the deficit to 41-39. And after Marshall and Leloup both made two from the charity stripe, the second quarter finished just as it started with the hosts passing well and Rozic hitting a triple as Cibona went into halftime leading 46-41.
Batista opened the second half with a long jumper for the guests and Koffi's own long jumper made it 48-45. But Prkacin hit a fine basket inside after a Marshall dish to start the decisive run for the game. Vukusic hit a layup and then a three-pointer after a pass from Marshall and Le Mans called a timeout down 55-47. Two Rozic foul shots made it a 10-point game and then Marshall dunked home a steal before Calloway knifed into the lane for a layup to finish the 13-2 run with Cibona ahead 61-47. Koffi stopped the bleeding with a dunk and Leloup's layup made it 64-51. But Cibona continued to pull away with Calloway hitting a turn-around jumper and Rozic converting on a delayed break for a 68-51 advantage. Leloup converted a break-away layup and Badiane scored as well as Le Mans tried to stay close. And Bluthenthal's half-court three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer left Le Mans down 72-58 going into the fourth.
Le Mans opened the final period with the first basket as Diot found Badiane in the lane for a dunk and the deficit was down to 72-60. But Le Mans would not get any closer the rest of the game. Calloway got out on the break for a layup and then Kus drained a triple and Homan hit a lay-in after another fine pass by Marshall and Cibona was back ahead 79-60 midway through the fourth. Chase stopped the Cibona run with a jumper but Calloway's turn-around jumper made it 82-62 and Cibona began taking out its starters. Andric's two foul shots upped the lead to 84-62 but Batista hit a dunk and lay-up before Chase's lay-up on the break cut the margin to 85-68 with under two minutes left. Tomislav Zubcic and Branimir Longin both made two foul shots to extend the lead back over 20 points until Batista's jumper just before the buzzer.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008