PHOTO: Ivana Dergez / KK Cibona

Cibona was defeated in the 16th round of the AdmiralBet ABA League, with Partizan emerging victorious with a score of 74-87. The hosts put up a significant fight against the EuroLeague team Partizan in the sold-out Dražen Petrović Arena, but it wasn’t enough for a better result.

Coaches Dino Repeša and Željko Obradović decided to send the following starting lineups onto the court. For Cibona: Aleksandar Aranitović, Matej Bošnjak, Ivan Perasović, Tomislav Buljan, and Krešimir Radovčić. For Partizan: Ognjen Jaramaz, Uroš Trifunović, Mateusz Ponitka, Zack LeDay, and Bruno Caboclo.

PHOTO: Ivana Dergez / KK Cibona

Cibona started the game excellently, taking an early lead with baskets from Buljan and Perasović. After three minutes of play, the score was 11-4 in favor of Wolves, prompting visiting coach Obradović to call an early timeout. After half of the first quarter, the host team gained a nine-point advantage. In the last seconds of the first quarter, Jaramaz hit a three-pointer to reduce Cibona’s lead to 25-20. Radovčić and Aranitović were the top scorers with seven points each.

The Black and Whites opened the second quarter with a 4-0 mini-run, forcing the hosts to take a minute’s break. After the break, Cibona responded with a three-pointer from Perasović, but Partizan, led by naturalized Croatian Jaleen Smith, equalized. The rest of the second quarter was marked by back-and-forth scoring and a few mistakes on both sides. However, in the last attack, Partizan got two free throws and went into halftime with a two-point lead.

The second half started with a three-pointer from Caboclo, followed by four more points from Partizan. Cibona, fueled by the loud cheers from the stands, fought back into the game. The team from Belgrade was not impressed and extended their lead to ten points. A hard foul by LeDay on Buljan did not stop the visitors, who increased their lead to 13 points. Aranitović, Proleta with free throws, and Mustapić with layups brought hope back to Cibona, forcing Obradović to call a timeout. Koprivica finished the planned action with a dunk, concluding the third quarter.

PHOTO: Ivana Dergez / KK Cibona

Two three-pointers from Anđušić and seven points from Radovčić opened the final quarter. Cibona, supported by the thunderous crowd, got back into the game and reduced the deficit to four points. Partizan’s return to a nine-point lead forced Repeša to call a timeout. The Wolves couldn’t fully come back, and the guests equalized their biggest lead of the game, winning with a final score of 74-87.

Dino Repeša: “I would like to congratulate the Partizan team on a well-deserved victory. The impression is that we had too many fluctuations in our game. We started very well, but after a few substitutions, our defense drastically declined, allowing Partizan to score some easy points. Of course, teams like that will also make some tougher shots afterward. As for us, first and foremost, I would like to thank the fans who supported us as the sixth player until the very end. However, we ran out of energy towards the end and couldn’t break the game to regain the lead. I think we relied too much on one-on-one play and three-point shooting. Also, I believe that nine made free throws were not enough, and teams like this can easily capitalize on that.”

Željko Obradović: “It was a great pleasure for me to play here, and the atmosphere in the arena was fantastic. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my young colleague Repeša on everything he does with his team; he guides them excellently, and tonight they played a good game. We started off looking very poorly, but as the game progressed, we found our rhythm. A crucial victory for us. I wish all the best to Cibona in the future, and, most importantly, that they regain the atmosphere that was here tonight.”

Cibona: Aleksandar Aranitović (17), Krešimir Radovčić (16), Jakov Mustapić (13), Matej Bošnjak (11), Ivan Perasović (6), Tomislav Buljan (5), Ivan Majcunić (3), Domagoj Vuković (2), Domagoj Proleta (1), Borna Katanović, Zvonimir Kujundžić, Filip Ferderber.

Partizan: Bruno Caboclo (18), Danilo Anđušić (17), Balsa Koprivica (10), Ognjen Jaramaz (10), Zach LeDay (10), Kevin Punter (8), Jaleen Smith (7), Uroš Trifunović (7), Alen Smailagić, Frank Kaminsky, Mateusz Ponitka, Tristan Vukčević