In a do-or-die showdown for the final Top 16 spot in Group A, Prokom Trefl Sopot managed to seal its ticket to the second phase despite a 78-84 home loss against injury-plagued Climamio Bologna. Both teams finished Group A with a 5-9 record, but Prokom advanced to the Top 16 because of its tie-break advantage, since it registered a 77-91 road loss in Bologna last December. Climamio is out of the competition, since it was not the best sixth-ranked team. Climamio needed a 15-point win to advance and it managed to get an epic 57-67 lead with 5 minutes to go, but Prokom found its own go-to guy in Donatas Slanina, who had 14 of his 15 points in the final period, including 4 three-pointers which kept Prokom within a safe distance. Christian Dalmau led the winners with 18 points while Michael Andersen added 10. Vasco Evtimov led Climamio with a double-double of 21 points and 15 rebounds. Tyus Edney and David Bluthenthal each added 17 while Stefano Mancinelli had 16 for Climamio, who missed injured stars Marco Belinelli and James Thomas. Slanina had 11 points in the final 5 minutes to make Prokom advance to the Top 16 for the second time in three Euroleague appearances.
Justin Hamilton need just 3 seconds to fire up the crowd with a two-handed dunk but Mancinelli matched it with a layup and added a turnaround jumper for a 2-4 Climamio edge. Evtimov stepped up with his trademark layup but Tomas Masiulis scored for a 4-6 Prokom deficit. Edney shined with a driving basket that Huseyin Besok erased with a long jumper. Evtimov kept pacing Climamio with consecutive baskets and by the time Edney took over with a driving layup, the guests led 8-14. Dalmau rescued Prokom with a three-point play but free throws by Alain Digbeu and Evtimov kept Climamio ahead, 11-17. Dalmau hit a triple in transition but Evtimov scored twice around the basket to give Climamio hope at 14-22, as the crowd in Sopot had already began to wonder. Edney and Andersen traded jumpers to fix the score at 16-24 after 10 minutes.
Evtimov scored in the low post right at the start of the second quarter but Adam Wojcik matched it with a tip-in. Bluthenthal fired in one from downtown to make it an 11-point game, 18-29. Dalmau scored off a steal and soon added an outstanding reverse layup to get the hosts within 23-29. Climamio struggled to score now, while Andersen stepped up with back-to-back layups to make it a two-point game, 27-29. The guests called timeout but Prokom was now on fire, as Dalmau and Rashid Atkins hit consecutive shots to cap a 11-0 run. Daniele Cavaliero tried to get Climamio going with a jumper but Atkins scored in transition for a 33-31 Prokom edge. Climamio kept attacking the basket but Prokom played with a different intensity now. Hamilton scored in penetration but Mancinelli and Evtimov shined with consecutive jump hooks. Andersen dunked it, Jasmin Hukic buried a corner triple while Cavaliero and Hamilton traded free throws for a 42-37 halftime score.
Besok fed Masiulis for an easy layup after the break while Hukic fired in a five-meter jumper to give Prokom a 46-37 lead. Evtimov stepped up with a reverse layup and Edney added a basket-plus-foul to bring Climamio within 46-42. Digbeu capped a 0-8 run with a three-pointer, but Prokom did not panic. Masiulis found an easy layup and Besok added a fast break dunk, good for a 50-45 lead. Bluthenthal fired in his second bomb from downtown while Evtimov tied it, 50-50, with an easy layup. Dalmau scored in penetration but Bluthenthal answered from downtown to give Climamio a 52-53 edge after 26 minutes. Edney shined with a second-chance layup, forcing a Prokom timeout at 52-55. Prokom kept finding trouble to score, while Edney shined with a driving layup, good for a 52-57 Climamio edge at the end of the third quarter.
Prokom tried a zone defense at the start of the final period, but Evtimov beat it with free throws. Slanina stepped up with a triple but Mancinelli answered with a jump hook to give Climamio a 55-61 lead. Andersen banked in a short jumper but a hyperactive Mancinelli erased it with free throws and Bluthenthal fired in a corner triple to give Climamio a 57-66 lead with 6 minutes to go. Prokom called timeout and found a go-to guy in Slanina, who buried consecutive triples but Bluthenthal answered from downtown to keep Climamio ahead, 63-72. Tomas Pacesas joined the three-point festival but Bluthenthal hit another shot and Mancinelli added a driving layup for a 68-76 Climamio lead. Slanina nailed his third triple in this quarter while an unsportsman foul allowed Dalmau to get Prokom within 73-78 with under 2 minutes to go. Edney scored twice in transition but Climamio ran out of time, as all Prokom fans started to celebrate that their team is back in the Top 16!
Thursday, February 1, 2007