Friday, 10 June 2022

Cibona Zagreb are Croatian Basketball Champions 2021/22 (PHOTOS)

June 10, 2022 - A 56:51 (38:25) victory at home for Cibona in Game 5 brings the decision against KK Zadar. The attending media representatives elected Roko Prkačin as MVP.

Confidence was already high for the 5000 spectators at Dražen Petrović Basketball Center in Zagreb before the game began. In the previous 12 finals played by Cibona and Zadar in the Croatian championships, the people of Zagreb had celebrated 11 times. This year both teams had managed to win one away game and one home game during the first four games to reach this decisive game 5.

DSC09795.jpegDespite the great support from the fans, the home team seemed to be absent at the beginning. Zadar only needed 2 minutes to acquire a 0:8 lead before Cibona was able to respond with multiple three point shots. At the other end of the court Okorn Gašper’s youngsters also started to show a better defense to turn the game around by the end of the first quarter (18:16).


With 10 points from MVP Roko Prkačin in the second quarter, Cibona managed to pass by the guests. Srđan Hellbich’s men could not find an answer for the young Cibona team’s intensive defense and accurate outside scoring. For many, the game already seemed decided by half-time (38:25).


Defending champions Zadar did not give the game up yet however. With the support of their 500 noisy fans, they managed to hold Cibona to only 8 points in the third quarter while scoring 12 themselves to make it 46:37 before the start of the final quarter. The guests even had a chance to turn the game around within the final minute. Home court advantage meant that two critical decisions were given to Cibona. The second one was a foul called against Zadar’s Thompson who fouled out and had to watch the hosts winning the game despite being outscored in the fourth quarter as well.



Cibona’s top scorers were Toni Nakić with 15 and Roko Prkačin with 14 points. Zadar’s captain Dominik Mavra (13) and his team-mate Trevor Thompson (12) scored best for the guests who couldn't beat the odds and congratulated Cibona Zagreb on their 20th title.




Referees: Hordov Tomislav, Jovović Alfred, Jurčević Josip

Box score: 

Result by quarters: 18:16, 20:9, 8:12, 10:14

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Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Croatian Basketball Championship Finals: Zadar's Win against Cibona Enforces Final Game Five

June 8, 2022- 2825 loyal supporters at Krešimir Ćosić Arena in Zadar saw their team win game four 61:59 (36:36) in this year's Croatian Basketball Championship Finals against Cedevita to make it 2 wins each. The championship will now be decided in the final game in Zagreb on Friday. 

The series has been quite a back and forth with Zadar surprising in Zagreb in the opener just to see Cibona come back with two straight wins. On Tuesday night the guests from the capital could have already crowned themselves but the defending champions managed to squeeze out just another close victory to stay alive.

Both sides played a defensive game and no team was able to pull away decisively. With only two minutes to play, the game was still tied at 58:58. Both sides could not convert their tries before the night's top scorer Thompson (15 points) was fouled. The Zadar center converted both his free throws for a 60:58 lead. Prkačin had a chance to tie the game for the guests again but missed his second free throw. When Thompson followed his example to make it 61:59, Cibona still had 17 seconds to tie or even win the game but Zadar's defense managed to hold on to the lead and the chance to defend the title.

The final and decisive game will be played at Dražen Petrović Basketball Center in Zagreb on Friday, June 10th, 2022 at 20:00.

Result by quarters: 16:17, 20:19, 13:9, 12:14

Referees: Radojković Josip, Kardum Luka, Hadžić Denis

Box score: 

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Sunday, 5 June 2022

Croatian Basketball Championship Finals: Cibona Wins Third Game against KK Zadar

June 5, 2022 - Cibona Zagreb was able to conquer back their home-court advantage with tonight's win against the defending champions and now lead 2:1 in the best-of-five series - 62:67 (36:30).

Zadar had opened the series with a 70:77 win in Zagreb on Monday to put pressure on Cibona. The team from the capital managed to come back on Wednesday with a 77:73 win and returned the favor tonight. 

During the opening play, Carter failed to nail his dunk as the 4000 spectators at Krešimir Ćosić Arena in Zadar saw a slow start with both sides acting slightly nervous. It took almost 3 minutes before Thompson made a free throw to open the scoring. 

After finishing the first quarter with a slight lead (19:17), the hosts benefitted from Cibona center Branković getting into foul trouble early. Zadar pulled away to 34:24 within the first 5 minutes of the second quarter and, despite only scoring once again,  went into half-time with a 36:30 lead. 

During the second half, Okorn Gašper's team held Zadar to only 26 points and decided the game with a strong fourth quarter effort. Top scorers for the guests were Toni Nakić (16 points), Roko Prkačin (13) and Lovro Gnijdić (10).

Zadar coach Srđan Hellbich did not seem to have listened to his own words. After the defeat in game two, he had criticized himself for not adding any of his young players to the rotation, only to play the routine rotation again tonight. Zadar's top scorers were Thompson with 14, Drežnjak with 12, and Mavra with 11 points.

Both teams will meet again in Zadar on Tuesday, where Cibona may already win this year's title. 

Result by quarters: 19:17, 17:13, 11:14, 15:23

Referees: Hordov Tomislav, Jurčević Josip, Gracin Franko


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Thursday, 2 June 2022

Cedevita Zagreb Barely Pulls Off a Home Victory against KK Zadar

June 2, 2022 - The Croatian Championship finals are tied at 1:1 after 77:73 (43:36) win for Cedevita Zagreb.

After losing the finals opener on Monday, the top-seed team from the capital was able to come back with a last quarter effort in front of 1500 spectators to maintain their chances for a title win against the defending champions. 

To pull the victory off, the talented team stopped the guests at 66:68 with four minutes left to play. The decision finally came with the last possession during which Toni Nakić scored both of his free throws after top scorer Justin Carter had scored his 19th and 20th points of the night to make it 75:73.


Cedevita Zagreb

The series will now continue with two games in Zadar on Sunday and Tuesday. Should game 5 be needed, it will be played in Zagreb Friday, June 10.

Result by quarters: 23:23, 20:13, 15:16, 19:21

Referees:  Radojković Josip, Jovović Alfred, Vulić Martin

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Monday, 30 May 2022

KK Zadar Wins Final Series Opener at Cibona Zagreb 70:77 (43:42)

May 30, 2022 - Defending champions KK Zadar have started this year's best of five finals series with an away victory in front of 2000 spectators at the Basketball Center "Dražen Petrović" in Zagreb and have taken over the role of favorites. 

Cibona had gone into the game rested after defeating Gorica 2:0 in the semi-finals last Monday, while Zadar had to go all the way to beat KK Split in the third game Friday night. 

The first half was a close game between the routine team of Zadar and the young team of Cibona containing plenty of talent. Okorn Gašper's home team went into half-time with a slight lead (43:42). 

During the third quarter guest coach Srđan Helbich's team was able to increase the intensity and take the first decisive lead (53:58).

Cibona was able to come back and tie the game at 64:64 with just under 4 minutes to play, but a 10:0 run with points by Drežnjak and Thompson decided the game at 64:74 and 95 seconds on the clock. 

Zagreb's Branković was the game's top scorer with 16 points, Thompson 15, Carter 13, and Drežnjak 12 had double digits for Zadar. 

On Wednesday Cibona will now need to win the second home game in order to maintain a proper shot at the title before Zadar will have two home games to possibly finish the series early. 

Points by quarter: 20:24, 23:18, 10:16, 17:19

Referees: Kardum Luka, Hadžić Denis, Jurčević Josip

Box score: 

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Friday, 27 May 2022

KK Split Gives Away Shot at the Title to KK Zadar 77:84 (36:31)

May 27, 2022 - Defending champions KK Zadar overcome home-court disadvantage and come back from behind to win the final game of this year's semifinal series 2:1.

Entering tonight's game both teams had won their home games clearly. Split had opened last Friday with a 74:64 (39:33) victory and Zadar answered with 76:57 (34:36) on Monday to tie the series and enforce today's decisive final encounter. 


The guests had to deal with internal problems during the last days after the police and justice system needed to get involved at the request of board members claiming that management was involved in embezzlement. The hosts were able to celebrate Shannon Shorter receiving the ABA League Top Scorer award last night. 


The 2000 spectators at Gripe saw a proper derby fight in which the Yellows for most of the game looked like they would win this one tonight. In the beginning, it was Zadar who had the better start. It took some time until close to the end of the first quarter before Split conquered its first lead at 16:14 but Zadar closed the quarter with the final points to make it 16:17.


During the second quarter, Jones had an impact with two blocked shots and 4 points from well-executed pick and rolls with Shorter. Ukić came off the bench and also took over more responsibility. The former NBA player scored 10 points and together with some strong effort by Jukić, the home team pulled away to a 36:31 lead at halftime.


Lots of drama then in quarter 3: Split was about to pull away in the race at 47:37 when two fouls against Žganec were not called by the referees, but his unlucky foul as a response was called an intentional one as it stopped a potential fast break. During the following discussion between coaches, players, and referees, a technical foul was issued against the Split bench and Zadar immediately came back to 47:43 and then to 47:45 before recovered Toni Perković gave short relief with a 3 pointer which was directly followed by a 3 from Drežnjak (50:48), an offensive rebound and Drežnjak's 50:50. A foul on Ukić who successfully finished his lay-up lit the gym on fire. Srđan Subotić's Yellows closed the quarter at 62:59 and then recovered their 10-point lead at 67:57 with 7 minutes left to play. 


The summer break will probably not be long enough to analyse what happened next. Even though a 10-point lead is not considered much, it is still a lead that a home team in a decisive game should manage to hold on to. But Split couldn't and it was the players with the blue jerseys once again who managed to celebrate as so often this season. 


Srđan Hellbich's team (top sorters scorers: Thompson 23 points Mavra 18, Drežnjak 14, Carter 13) will now have a chance to defend their title against Cibona Zagreb in a best of 5 series which will begin on Monday in Zagreb. 

Result by quarters: 16:17, 36:31, 62:59, 77:84

Referees: Jovović Alfred, Hadžić Denis, Kruljac Bojan


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Monday, 23 May 2022

KK Zadar Ties Championship Semifinals Against KK Split 76:57 (34:36) at Home

May 23, 2022 - Krešimir Ćosić Arena seemed almost empty with 1100 in attendance at game two of this year's Croatian Basketball Championship semifinals between KK Zadar and KK Split. The fans there saw a mediocre game with a better end for the hosts. 



After Split had used its home-court advantage in game one on Friday for a 74:64 victory, it was Zadar's third-quarter energy display to enforce a game three. The home team had led most of the first half but Split stayed in the game despite missing Toni Perković, who had been an important factor in the last game. Even without the outside shots from the guard, Srđan Subotić's team managed to catch the first lead just at the end of the second half (34:36).



The game was then decided in the third quarter, in which Zadar dominated the boards and was able to outscore the Yellows 25:9. Split was able to increase defensive intensity in the final quarter, but terrible outside shooting (18% three-point percentage) did not allow them to turn the game around. 



Zadar coach Srđan Helbich's best players were Justin Carter, who scored 21 points and caught 7 rebounds, Trevor Thompson added 14 points and 8 rebounds, while Dario Drežnjak added 13 points to the victory. Shannon Shorter, with 20 points and seven rebounds, and Tonko Vuko, with 15 points, were the only ones in double digits wearing the Split jersey today.


The decisive third game will be played in Split on Friday, May 27th.

Referees: Hordov Tomislav, Jurčević Josip, Gracin Franko

Result by quarters: 22:16, 12:20, 25:9, 17:12

Box score: 

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Tuesday, 29 March 2022

KK Split Gives Away Another Home Game to Zadar 77:78 (42:36)

March 29, 2022 - KK Split has given another home game away to Zadar, losing 77:78 at Gripe on Tuesday night. 

Almost two weeks have passed since the "Yellows" lost their place in the sunlight on the last day of the regular season in the Croatian HT Premijer Liga. KK Zadar had dominated most of the game and managed to steal points at Gripe with a convincing 81:95 victory.


Since then, Split won all three games against Cedevita and at Gorica during the championship round of HT Premijer Liga and pulled off a surprise win at Borac in the ABA League.



Zadar won its final game of the regular season against Zabok and won at home against Cibona in the championship round. After that, however, they lost at home in the ABA league against Ljubljana (77:92) and then again closely at Mornar (86:84).


Tonight Split dominated most of the game but failed to make the kill. At Gripe, 900 fans saw a good game from Split during the first half. The home team used their advantage under the basket. Zadar was missing Vuković and Bursać, two experienced big men. With space under the basket, the Yellows were able to set up a successful in-and-out game with easy baskets from the perimeter.


During the third quarter, guest coach Anzulović and his team were able to find answers. Zadar's stolen talent from Podstrana, Tomislav Buljan, used his chance and gave his team the necessary extra energy. The U19 Finals' MVP used his 11 minutes for 6 points and 4 rebounds and kept the home centers busy.



A few minutes before the end of the game, Split looked like the sure winner with a 71:62 lead and just less than 4 minutes to play. However, when it was needed, guest captain Mavra started making his outside shots again. With only seconds to go and the game tied, Shannon Shorter was blocked by Zadar's Justin Carter. The American combo guard delivered a convincing game with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and two critical blocks. His last block sealed the victory.


The top scorer of the night was guest captain Dominik Mavra again with 19 points (5 of 7 three-point shots) and 8 assists.


Srđan Subotić had to leave the gym with his head bowed down. This game should not have been lost. Once again, the low free throw percentage (12 of 19 = 63%) cost his team a victory. Kovačević was the top scorer for the home team with 16 points (5 of 10 three-point shots) 

Box score:

Referees: Hordov Tomislav, Radojković Josip, Gracin Franko

HT Premijer Liga format:

The Croatian basketball championship is played in 3 rounds. The twelve teams of HT Premijer Liga play each other twice to establish the top and bottom half of the league. The points are maintained in the second round, where the top 6 teams play each other twice in the championship round; the last 6 teams also play each other again twice in the relegation round. Then the top 6 teams and the best two teams of the relegation round play each other in the playoffs for the championship. The last-placed team at the end of the relegation round drops out, and the 11th faces the runner-up of the First League in a two-game match-up. The team that scores more in those two games earns the right to play in the higher league in the following season.

All photos by Burak Canboy

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Monday, 14 March 2022

KK Split Loses Important Placement Match against Zadar 81:95 (32:54)

March 14, 2022 - With KK Split and KK Zadar as last year's finalists, two of the big favorites for the Croatian title in the HT Premijer Liga met tonight at Gripe to battle for a good spot in the playoffs. 

The Croatian league is again dominated by the big four teams, including Cibona and Cedevita from Zagreb. All four are qualified for the playoffs, and tonight's game was important not only for prestige but also to secure a good spot in the upcoming playoffs.


A total of 8 teams qualify for the playoffs. The six teams that played the championship round will be supplemented by the top two teams of the relegation round.


With four defeats, Split had the least losses of the top teams before the game while the other three teams had 5 defeats. However, Split did not play like a championship contender for most of the game. 


Zadar started the game with a dunk by Trevor Carter Thompson and was able to do whatever they wanted with the Yellows during the entire first quarter (12:27). Srđan Subotić's home team could not find a solution against Zadar's inside game. 


Thompson, Bursać, Vuković continued to cut through Split's defense play after play and increased the lead to 32:54 at halftime. 

The 700 visitors witnessed an ugly third quarter with plenty of could but no difference in the lead. The guests were even able to pull away to a 28 point lead before the end of the third quarter (58:79).


However, those who stayed to watch were rewarded by an extremely fun final quarter. Out of nowhere, Split was able to find a way back into the game. Led by Roko Ukić, three-pointers by Perković, Čampara, and Kovačevič, the home crowd smelled a sensation. With 3 minutes to play, Split had managed to be in a 10-point-game. 

The surprised guests from northern Dalmatia almost lost all their nerves, hadn't it been for team captain Dominik Mavra who scored a three-pointer with 37 seconds to play and re-established an 11 point lead for his team.

The final score was 81:95 and Split lost both the game and the 9-point-advantage from their first-leg victory. With one more game to be played by Cibona, it appears that Zadar secured the top spot for the playoffs, while Split will need to wait for the Cibona-Furnir game's result tomorrow to know at which spot they will head into the playoffs.

The best player of the night for guest coach Srđan Helbich was Trevor Carter Thompson who scored a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Small Gym on Gripe


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Saturday, 5 June 2021

KK Zadar Becomes Croatian Basketball Champions After 13 Years!

June 5, 2021 - KK Zadar becomes Croatian basketball champions after defeating Split 84:57 in the final game of the series on Saturday at Višnjik.

Since Croatian independence, Zagreb teams Cedevita and Cibona have mostly dominated the Basketball Championships (25 of 28 seasons). Split was able to pull off one title in 2003, while Zadar was able to win two in 2005 and 2008. 

Tonight, the two Dalmatian teams had to battle to find out who would be forever remembered as the 2021 champions and who would only be known by experts remembering a series that was played to the last decisive game. Recall, Zadar won its two home games to take a lead and seemed like the sure champions before Split somehow managed to come back to win game 3 in overtime and continue with a clear victory in game 4 to tie the series 2:2.

A lot of rumors were going on regarding discussions between the Zadar club,  the National Basketball Association, and the epidemiologists in charge of deciding how many spectators would be allowed into the gym. After the two losses in Split, the hosts were hoping for some support after seeing how much noise 100 spectators could make in Split and how many 100 spectators could actually be. During the first two games, Zadar had basically played in front of empty seats. Not very surprisingly thousands of spectators could not be held back and found their way into the arena to give Zadar a true home atmosphere, and despite all epidemic concerns it surely got loud in the arena. 

Despite the noise and intimidation, Split had the better start with a 0:5 in the first 3 minutes. Zadar was able to counter with a 14:2 run until 8 minutes into the game. Zadar was able to control the boards once again and outrebounded the Yellows 26:15 in the first half.


Burak Canboy

Burak Canboy

The second quarter opened with a three-pointer by Jordano (20:9), followed by two more Jordano three-pointers for a 15-point Zadar advantage in the 16th minute (33:18). Mesiček responded with a three-pointer, but in the next minute and a half, the 8:0 Zadar series on the wings of Mavra and Onuaku followed, and in the 18th minute, Zadar was up by 20 (41:21). The second quarter ended with a three-pointer by Ukić and Onuaku dunk (49:29).


Burak Canboy


Burak Canboy


Burak Canboy

Zadar's Jordano was on fire tonight and scored his sixth three-pointer of the final for 55:31 in the third quarter. Thanks to Vuković and Junaković, Zadar was up by 30 (68:38) in the last minute of the third quarter. Vukovic scored for 71:40, and Ukić ended the quarter with a three-pointer for 71:43.


Burak Canboy


Burak Canboy

Zadar calmly brought the game to an end. In the last quarter, more attention was paid to the stands than to the floor. Zadar fans lit torches and celebrated their new title.


Burak Canboy


Burak Canboy


Burak Canboy


Burak Canboy

Zadar: Carter 15, Jordano 22, Justice, Palokaj, Brala, Vukovic 7, Bursac 4, Junakovic 4, Mavra 11, Onuaku 19, Planinic 2, Kraljevic.

Split: Perkovic 3, Perasovic 5, Kedzo 2, Ukic 18, Marcinkovic, Bajo 2, Champara, Babic 5, Vrankovic 2, Lukovic 9, Maric 6, Mesicek 5.

Referees: Luka Kardum, Tomislav Vovk, Bojan Kruljac

Source: Dalmatinski Portal

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