even though not much earlier they had a press release making everyone sure that the head coach had got the full support of the basketball team’s presidency
(by the way: after this "event" basketball team president Nikola Peković travelled back to Minnesota, because he is in fact still the active player of Timberwolves - and they were beaten ruthlessly right at the next game by Denver Nuggets)
and they immediately signed Aleksandar Džikić.
Partizan’s bench is not new for Džikić, he had been second trainer here years ago. Then he coached Minnesota Timberwolves as well as Ljubljana and Krka, then he switched to the national team of Macedonia, and now he found himself again at Partizan, this time as head coach.
Fans were waiting for him as if he was some kind of Messiah and when he entered the hall before the game, he got a very loud applause.
In the meantime the team warmed up.
Then we walked out to the court.
The truth is that there was definitely a change in Partizan’s game compared to earlier days. On the court there was a much more aggressive, combative Partizan clashing with the Croatians. No idea what Džikić did to them, but if not else, he pretty much set them afire.
In the beginning Cibona was leading (2:6), then not (7:6). Then still a bit, again (7:8), but then Murić scored a 3-pointer (10:8).
From then on we kept our advantage for 3 quarters. Fans were cheering loud and enthusiastically, Wilson, Murić and Vitkovac threw one basket after the other. Cibona could score only from free throws, then at the end they could pound in a hook as a field goal after a missed-out free throw. We finished the quarter with 26:23.
Cibona equalized at the beginning of the second quarter (26:26), what is more, they even took the lead for a few seconds (Rozić stole the ball with a cheeky movement, then he ran up and dunked it in with an almost-bored looking swing, 26:28), but we quickly equalized and took back the lead (30:28). The pace slowed down a bit, but there was still a great battle on the court, players were sometimes literally wrestling for the ball. We kept on scoring, for the end of the quarter we reached the two-digit difference (46:36).
Then we did such things, too.
We finished the first half with 48:42.
In the third quarter the pace got slow again a bit. Cibona sometimes got dangerously close to us (49:47), but Murić, Vitkovac and Jones quickly made it to 55:49. Partizan’s dominance was clear, then there was a point at 58:51, when Cvetković hammered the ball into the basket, but he was pushed hard by a Cibona-player while scoring, and "Cvele" fell right onto a cameraman, swiping him away together with his camera. The referee whistled, we got a bonus shot. Cvetković missed it out, but he caught his own rebound, then Vrabac scored (62:51).
This was the point when something broke in Cibona’s coach. All the viewer could see was him yelling with the referees, who gave him technical foul in exchange. An elderly gentleman wearing grey sweatshirt was explaining something with great gestures
later I found out he was Aleksandar Petrović, renowned Yugoslav basketball player, today the president of KK Cibona
two stewards stepped to him and discreetly asked him to leave the place. They courted him to the tunnel.
We continued to parade, so much, that the Wilson-Vrabac duo allowed themselves even this cheeky trick.
Cibona started to fall into pieces (Their coach sent killer looks towards the referees.) Our advantage kept on growing, 69:53, then 71:54. At the end of the quarter Đumić was fouled out, but we still had a 14-point advantage before entering the final part (73:59).
Before someone would play the sentimental card and started to whine me something like "oh, but he just wanted to watch a good basketball game", then let me ask, why the hell didn't he sit onto a stand then?... Another question: did he sit there from public money, or did he pay with those dinars he earned with his own blood and sweat? (Did he pay for the entrance at all?...)
The last quarter brought an impossible, wacky game. Cibona sped up, they picked themselves together and started to score. 73:61, 73:63, here Aranitović scored a 3-pointer (76:63), but this didn’t stop Cibona. 78:68, 80:71, then 80:75, and less than two minutes were left when they took back the lead (80:81).
We got a free throw. Vitkovac took the lead back for us (82:81). Tensed nerves, great fight on the court, wrestling, pushing each other, yelling. Another free throw for Partizan, Cvetković scores, just like it’s written in the Big Book of Basketball (84:81). Cibona also got a free throw, they reduced the difference to 2 points (84:82). Unbearable tense, Vitkovac gets fouled out. Another free throw for Cibona. And they miss it out!
Only 9 seconds left. Murić and Florence almost start a fight. Partizan’s Slovenian player is pulled away by 3 teammates. The American complains. The referee whistles, free throw for Partizan. Murić scores, 85:82. Time-out. Unbelievable mass scenes. Only 4 seconds are left when Cibona attacks.
But they miss it out.
BREAKING: During the game Partizan’s new "purchase", Darrell Williams has arrived in Belgrade.
KK Partizan: Cvetković (8), Aranitović (3), Jones (14), Murić (11), Marinković (11), Vitkovac (15), Đumić (5), Koprivica, Magdevski, Milutinović, Vrabac (10), Wilson (8)
Cibona: Florence (8), Krušlin (6), Hukić (3), Uljarević, Šiško, Rozić (20), Slavica (5), Joksimović (6), Andrija Žižić (11), Ante Žižić (12), Siriščević (11)
League table will be brought later.