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KK Zagreb See Off Proteas

08 January 2008

KK Zagreb gave recently-installed coach Zeljko Pavlicević the perfect start in the EuroCup as the Croatian side won over Proteas EKA AEL 82-77.

The well-travelled coach, who led Japan at the 2006 FIBA World Championship, is back on home soil and could be set to make a major impact in this European competition with his team, at least temporarily, going top of Group C with two wins and just one defeat.

"Congratulations to my players," Pavlicević said.

"This is a very important win for us. We were a better team for 37 minutes but in the last three minutes, I gave a chance to younger players because the difference wasn't important for us since it was not possible to win by more than 23."

They were well on their way to victory with nine seconds remaining in the first half when Gordan Zadravec buried a three-pointer for a 41-32 advantage.

That basket was a reply to a three-ball made shortly before by the Cypriot team's French star, Maxime Zianveni.

The home side gradually began to pull away in the third quarter, opening up a 68-48 lead.

Proteas never gave up and did manage to make the scoreline more respectable, pulling to within 81-77 with two seconds remaining in the contest on a made jump shot by another Frenchman, Karim Souchu.

But they would get no closer as Hrvoje Kovacevic split a pair of free throws just a second from the end to account for the final score.

The winners were eight of 18 (44.4%) from behind the arc in the game, compared to just three of 11 (27.3%) for the team from Limassol.

Ante Tomic had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Zagreb, while Milutin Aleksic had 10 assists to go with his 12 points and five boards for Proteas.

Bruno Sundov, who finished with nine points in defeat, said: "Zagreb was the better team today. There are no complaints about their victory. We played bad."

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