|Cibona celebrated their 18th Croatian championship since the country's independency in 1991 (photo: Cibona.com & Igor Kralj/PIXSELL)|
Cibona Zagreb retained their Croatian A-1 Liga crown and claimed the domestic double by completing a 3-0 sweep of KK Zadar in the play-off finals on Tuesday night.
The historical Zagreb side won 101-83 at home in Game 3 of the finals and added an all-time high 18th domestic league title to its trophy case in the process.
Unlike in Game 2, when Zadar had come out determined to claim their first win and prolong the title race, Cibona started strong and took a 35-22 lead after an almost flawless first quarter.
Zadar recovered somewhat in the second frame and reduced the gap to 49-42 by the half-time interval, but they would not be able to come any closer in the third.
The hosts then scored 29 points in the final stanza to end any hopes of a last-ditch attempt at a comeback by their guests.
Cibona point guard Jerel Blassingame led all scorers on Tuesday with 20 points and FIBA Europe Young Men's Player of the Year runner-up Dario Saric added 19 points, following on with impressive consistency from his 19-point display in Game 2.
"Another trophy has been conquered, it was very difficult to predict this but it's just that the team believed in it," a delighted Saric said after the final game.
"We had some ups and downs in the season but we stayed focused on where we needed to be, in my mind it's the way it should be and we justified our role as the favourites."
For Cibona head coach Danijel Lutz meanwhile it Tuesday's triumph concluded "an absolute dream season."
"We had a rocky start, however we regenerated and built a team that was able to get in with a chance to fight for the crown," the coach added.
"Our hunger to fight for trophies was simply too high and our motivation even greater," Cibona veteran center Andrija Zizic, who contributed 11 points on the night, summed up the reason for their success.
A 21-point performance by Zizic was the driving force behind Cibona's triumph in the domestic cup in March, which came about after a dramatic 77-76 win over Cedevita in a thrilling final.
NEW ORDER IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
KK Igokea, the team that had impressed in the ABA Adriatic League this season, has put an end to the four-year reign of Siroki WWin in the domestic league of Bosnia And Herzegovina.
The team from Aleksandrovac defeated Siroki 74-69 on Tuesday night in the deciding fifth game of the play-off finals to clinch the series 3-2 and win their first league title in 12 years.
Corsley Edwards paved the way for the new champions on Tuesday with a game-high 25 points while Clifford Hammonds finished with 14 points and nine assists.