Although it could not reach the Top 16 again, Prokom Trefl finished its Euroleague Basketball season by downing mighty Lietuvos Rytas 75-73 at home in Sopot, Poland in Group B on Thursday. Prokom ended Group B tied with Armani Jeans Milano for the seventh place with a 5-9 record while L. Rytas finished third at 8-6 record. Goran Jagodnik led the winners with 23 points. Adam Wojcik added 18 on 7 of 8 two-pointers while Christian Dalmau had 11 points and 6 assists for Prokom. Simas Jasaitis scored 19 points for L. Rytas, Matt Nielsen had 17 while Haris Mujezinovic posted a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Knowing it still had a shot at first place, L. Rytas made a close game of despite trailing 64-52 after 30 minutes. Javtokas, Jasaitis and Nielsen fueled a late 0-10 run that gave L. Rytas a 69-70 edge with under 2 minutes to go. Tomas Masiulis hit a critical jumper and Dalmau added a layup for a 73-70 Prokom lead. Maurice Baker and Jeff Noordgard exchanged free throws, while Nielsen missed his second attempt on purpose but even when he got his own offensive rebound, could not hit the game-winning three for L. Rytas.
Jasaitis got L. Rytas going with a jumper and Fred House added fastbreak points for the guests. Those were quickly erased as Masiulis and Jagodnik scored from the paint for a 4-4 tie. Nielsen and Masiulis exchanged baskets but otherwise both teams struggled on offense. Following its fourth turnover, L. Rytas called a timeout, but it didn't change much as Prokom took its first lead, 8-6, on Jagodnik's basket. Nielsen responded with a triple, but that new L. Rytas lead would be its last in the first half. Jagodnik stayed on fire and with the help of Tomas Pacesas pushed Prokom to a 19-12 lead. Efes used a zone defense to cut the gap to 20-16 at the end of the first quarter.
Prokom opened the second with Wojcik's triple, sparking an 8-2 run to a double-digit advantage, 28-18, after Pacesas made his second shot from beyond the arc. House cut the gap in half with 5 consecutive points for guests, including a dunk. L. Rytas used fullcourt defense to pushed Prokom out of its rhythm. For almost 5 minutes, the hosts were unable to make a basket, before Rashid Atkins scored to make it 33-24. Jasaitis kept L. Rytas in touch with back-to-back triples, but it wasn't enough for a full comeback, beacuse Wojcik scored twice for Prokom and scoreboard showed 37-34 at the half.
Prokom scored 5 points in a row after the break before Jasaitis silenced the crowd with his third triple. But then Dalmau scored again, Jagodnik added his layup and the hosts stayed in control. Javtokas made a spectacular dunk following an offensive rebound for L. Rytas, but on the other side commited fourth foul and was benched. L. Rytas's defense was hurt although Mujezinovic was fighting on both boards. It wasn't enough, however, when Jagondik got really hot. He scored 8 consecutive points including a pair of strikes from beyond the arc, after which Prokom led 60-49. Jasaitis tried to help Mujezinovic, but the guests also had problems stopping Wojcik, whose dunk made it 64-52 after 30 minutes.
Javtokas came back from the bench to end 2 scoreless minutes of the fourth quarter with another slum dunk. L. Rytas continued its run with easy points from Nielsen and Jasaitis and kept Prokom shut out. It was 64-59 with under 5 minutes remaining when Wojcik finally scored for Prokom. Then the hosts escaped to a 69-60 lead when Dalmau beat the shot clock with an unbelievable triple. But L. Rytas did not give up. Rather, it used defense to force Prokom's mistakes and score the next 7 points, cutting the gap to 69-67 with 2 minutes left. Prokom used a timeout, but after it, Jasaitis buried his fourth triple and L. Rytas was ahead 69-70, its first lead since the opening quarter. Masiulis responded with a jumper with 30 seconds remaining and on the next possession, House lost the ball, leading to Dalmau's easy basket. Prokom led again 73-70 and L. Rytas needed a timeout. The guests had 10 seconds to find a triple, but Prokom sent Baker to the foul line instead. He made both, as did Jeff Nordgaard for Prokom. Also at the line, Nielsen had to miss his his second attempt to preserve last-shot chance for L. Rytas, but when he got the ball back beyond the arc, his shot missed the shot at the buzzer and Prokom won 75-73.
Thursday, February 9, 2006
Andrzej Jaworski, Poland