Adam Wojcik came off the bench for a season-high 22 points to lead Prokom Trefl to a 72-61 over RheinEnergie Cologne in a Group B encounter in Sopot, Poland. Prokom improved to 5-7 and edged closer to its goal of advancing to the Top 16. RheinEnergie on the other hand dropped to 2-10 and lost any mathematical chance of reaching the next stage. The visitors actually started strong, riding Emmanuel McElroy, Devin Green and Demond Mallet to an 11-19 lead after 10 minutes. RheinEnergie led 33-40 at halftime, but Wojcik and Huseyin Besok led Prokom back for a 53-49 lead after three periods. Wojcik continued to shine in the last 10 minutes leading Prokom to the win. Christian Dalmau added 17 for Prokom, while Besok and Donatas Slanina had 11 apiece. Aleksander Nadjfeji led RheinEnergie with 16 points, 4 assists and 5 steals, McElroy added 14, Marcin Gortat 12 points and 13 rebounds and Mallet finished with 11.
Both teams struggled on offense at the beginning before Marcin Gortat finally opened the score with a point from the line. Hukic responded with a layup that turned out to be Prokom's only lead in the first half. It was 4-4 following Besok's first basket, but then the guests scored 7 points in a row to escape. McElroy, Green and Mallet with a triple were on target during the run, which forced Prokom's first timeout. After that, the hosts still couldn't find their rhythm although Hukic finally scored again. On the other end, however, McElroy and Nadjfeji made sure that RheinEnergie maintained its advantage at 11-19 at the end of the first quarter.
Nadjfeji continued pushing the guests as he opened the second quarter with a three-point play good for a 11-22 lead. Prokom saw the danger and reacted with its first run, 7-0, to close the gap as Wojcik scored twice from the paint and Dalmau added a spectacular triple off a screen. RheinEnergie did not flinch, however, as Mallet hit a triple to ignite a 2-9 response with which the guests reestablished a double-digit advantage, 20-31. A spectacular drive by visiting forward Devin Green earned even ovation from the home supperters and forced another Prokom timeout. The hosts became more efficient on the offensive boards after that,but weren't able to close the gap to fewer than 6 points. Prokom tried zone defense for a while, but it didn't succeed as RheinEnergie's own Polish player, Gortat, dunked over his idol, Wojcik. Finally, Slanina brought some help from the bench and hit a seven-meter triple to close the half with a 33-40 scoreboard in RheinEnergie's favor.
Prokom tightened its defense to start the second half and quickly took control. It forced the game inside, where Wojcik and Besok were on target. Slanina finished the fastbreak that made it 39-40. Prokom would have a few chances to take the lead as Rhein Energie struggled now to find open shots of any kind. The guests did not score for almost 5 minutes until McElroy finally made a layup. But Prokom was ready then with another 7-0 run, ending with an acrobatic drive by Dalmau that gave Prokom its second lead of the evening, 43-42. Dalmau made sure by followed it with a bomb from the left wing, but now Nadjfeji and Mallet reemerged for RheinEnergie with 6 points in a row to put the guests back ahead, 47-48. Prokom needed to gain control of its home court and did so with a 6-1 run ended with another basket by Dalmau that was good for a 53-49 advantage after 30 minutes.
Early in the final quarter, Filip Dylewicz got some important rebounds for Prokom and Rashid Atkins scored an easy fastbreak, but Nadjfeji kept the guests in touch with a pair of layups. With a scoreboard showing 58-57, RheinEnergie had a chance to take the lead, but instead commited a turnover, the break Prokom was looking for. Slanina hit the first jumper in an 8-2 run that gave the hosts control for good, but the go-to guy was the veteran Wojcik, who to pour in 7 consecutive points that left Prokom ahead 67-59 with under 4 minutes left. Green got a quick basket back, but the Prokom defense ruled the rest of the way with a game-ending 5-0 run to push the Polish champs closer to another Top 16 appearance.
Thursday, January 18, 2007