Efes Pilsen left its first loss in Group B behind it by going to Sopot, Poland on Thursday and outlasting host Prokom Trefl 75-82 in a game that was close throughout. Efes is now 5-1 and still leading Group B after marking its fifth win without a loss over Prokom in the last two seasons. Prokom fell to 2-4 and a sixth-place tie with Olympiacos and Armani Jeans Milano. This was still a two-point game, 73-75, in the next-to-last minute before Efes poured in 7 straight points, including a triple by Alper Yilmaz, to run off with the win. Antonio Granger had his biggest game of the season for Efes, with 21 points in 40 minutes. Marko Popovic scored 11 of his 14 points in the first quarter for the winners. Efes also got 11 each from Henry Domercant and Kaya Peker, while Niksa Prkacin added 10. Christian Dalmau paced Prokom with 18 points, while Goran Jagodnik added 13 and Michael Andersen 12.
Prkacin opened the scoring with a reverse lay-up, but Dalmau matched it before he and Domercant exchanged triples. Still, Efes built a 7-12 advantage following Granger's mid-range shot. It didn't last, however, as Prokom scored 7 points in a row - including a triple by Jagodnik and Michael Andersen's layup - to take its first lead, 14-12. Just a few seconds later, Prokom was hurt by Tomas Pacesas's third foul, and Popovic used his absence to score 6 quick points on a three-point basket-plus-free throw followed by a bomb for the same amount from downtown. Jagodnik responded with a jumper, but Popovic booted up another triple on the next possesion for a 17-21 Efes lead. Dalmau scored 5 consecutive points to put Prokom ahead again 22-21, but Efes got Kerem Gonlum and Ender Arslan to the foul line for a 22-24 lead after 10 minutes.
Demercant extended the Efes lead to start the second quarter, but the next few minutes belonged to the hosts. Dalmau was still on fire, Istvan Nemeth made his first basket from the arc and Andersen finished the run with a monster fastbreak dunk. Gonlum cut Prokom's lead to 31-30 with a tip-in, and then Domercant took over. His steals and fastbreak baskets sparked a 0-6 Efes run to a 31-36 advantage. The guests tightened their defense, but the tempo of the game was still very high. Tomas Masiulis made a bomb from a downtown to keep Prokom in touch, but Domercant was still on fire. When Granger added his layup Efes had the biggest advantage yet, 36-42, but Prokom closed the half with 6-1 run capped by Wojcik's jumper that left a 42-43 score at the break.
Efes opened the second half with 2-8 run by forcing the ball inside to Prkacin and Peker. Wojcik had a tip-in for Prokom, but on the next possession lost the ball to Domercant, whose fastbreak dunk made it 44-51. After a Prokom timeout, Jagodnik scored 4 quick points, but Granger punished Prokom's zone defense with consecutive triples. Masiulis and Jagondik responded with the same money, hitting their bombs from the downtown, but Popovic also hit from beyond the arc for Efes. Finally, Andersen scored 6 consecutive points from the paint for Prokom to equal the score by himself, 60-60. Popovic hurt his foot on a drive then and had to leave the game, while Dalmau finished Prokoms's 14-3 run with a jumper. That left time for Arslan to close the quarter with his first basket, which tied the score 62-62 after 30 minutes.
At the start of the final quarter, defenses took over, but Granger went over Prokom's to connecte on a triple from the corner. When Nemeth made a jumper in response, it would turn out to be Prokom's only basket for over 5 minutes. Efes also took advantage of Prokom's early fouls to slowly buid its lead to 64-71, even though Peker had missed 4 free throws in a row. Jeff Nordgaard came off the bench to give some hope to Prokom's supporters with a triple from the corner, but Arslan quickly commanded silence with his own. With 3:30 to play, Efes was up 70-74 following Wojcik's jumper, but the guests took a timeout to control the tempo. Prokom had an advantage on the boards, but it wasn't enough as hosts couldn't find open shots down the stretch. Efes was also scoreless from the field on a few consecutive possessions, but their high-level defense seemed to be enough. Prokom came within 73-75 after Wojcik made 1 of 2 shots from the line in the 39th minute, but on the other side Arslan scored twice, Yilmaz buried his triple, and the guests escaped for good. Efes had its fifth win in a row over a Prokom team that found the task as tough as ever.
Thursday, December 8, 2005