Efes Pilsen rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to register its eighth consecutive victory over Prokom Trefl 74-81 on the road in Sopot, Poland on Thursday in a key game for both teams in Group A. Efes used the victory to move into fourth place with a 4-4 record, dropping Prokom into a fifth-place tie with Le Mans, both at 3-5. Prokom led by as many as 13 late in the third quarter and by 57-47 early in the fourth before Efes exploded from the three-point line to take over. Cenk Akyol hit 2 triples in a row and Horace Jenkins a third to spark the comeback as Efes totalled 34 points in the final quarter. Jenkins led the winners with 23 points and Niksa Prkacin had 20, while Marcus Haislip registered a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. Donatas Slanina fired in 17 points for Prokom, while Christian Dalmau put up 16 and Huseyin Besok 14.
Ermal Kuqo scored off the opening tip to get Efes started. Besok answered with a layup and those same two centers also traded next baskets before Jasmin Hukic made a first triple for hosts. Slanina closed Prokom's 8-0 run with a three-point play to make it 10-4. The visitors from Istanbul responded with 7 points in a row, however, including Marcus Haislip's triple and another pair of layups by Kuqo. On the next possession, Kuqo left with his second foul, but Prkacin replaced him more than well enough. Although Tomas Masiulis and Slanina pushed Prokom ahead again 15-11, Efes stayed just behind thanks to its advantage inside. Prkacin scored from the line and traded baskets with Besok before the opening quarter finished with Prokom ahead 17-14.
Efes continued forcing the game inside to Prkacin, who had the ball on every possession early in the second quarter. He obliged with a hook shot. Prokom couldn't find the answer for Prkacin, but used its own big men on offense as both Wojcik and Michael Andersen scored in a 7-0 run. Dalmau came off the bench to hit a triple for Prokom's biggest lead of the first half, 26-20. Efes quickly responded, however, with 5 consecutive points from Prkacin. Indeed, Gonlum was the only other Efes player to scored in the entire quarter, making a free throw before Prkacin equalled the score at 28-28. Besok closed the half with a basket to leave Prokom with a 30-28 advantage. By that time, Prkacin and Kuqo had combined for 24 points for Efes.
To start the second half, Haislip dunked following Kuqo's assist before Masiulis fired his first triple for 33-30 Prokom lead. Haislip dominated with 2 power dunks to keep his team in touch at 35-34. Prokom then found its rhythm from long distance as Slanina and Masiulis combined for 3 triples and the hosts took the night's first double-digit advantage, 44-34. That forced an Efes timeout, which didn't change much as Besok closed Prokom's 11-0 run with a layup to make it 46-44. Jenkins finally responded with a three-point play for the guests, but Prokom continued to control the tempo. Dalmau and Hukic made 4 consecutive foul shots for a 50-37 lead, but that would be as far ahead as Prokom got. Efes was far from finished. Haislip and Jenkins proved that by combining for all the points in a 2-10 run that brought Efes back into the game at 54-47 after 30 minutes.
Slanina opened the last quarter with 3 shots from the foul line to restore Prokom's double-digit advantage at 57-47. Efes shooter Drew Nicholas finally made his first basket of the game, a bomb from a downtown, then Prkacin got back on the scoreboard with free throws. Jenkins extended the Efes run to 0-7 before Besok made a jumper for Prokom. But guests had found their rhythm and and used balanced offense now to take control.Layups from both Jenkins and Nicholas made it 59-58 and forced a Prokom timeout, but Efes had the momentum. Nicholas now equalled the score by making 1 of 2 free throws with 5 minutes left, making it a new ballgame. Wojcik pushed his team ahead again for the last time before Akyol, also scoreless until then, hit 2 triples on consecutive possessions and Jenkins added another. That quickly, it was 61-68, a lead that Efes would keep safe. Prokom, without Justin Hamilton since his second-quarter injury, finally got a basket from behind the arc by Dalmau, who was joined by Rashid Atkins to make it 70-73. Jenkins and Prkacin proved perfect from the line, however, and when Haislip combined another spectacular block with a monsteer dunk at the other end, Efes had beaten Prokom for the eighth time in as many games.
Thursday, December 14, 2006