Asseco Prokom downing Olympiacos 81-78
The first Euroleague playoff game ever played in Poland will be remembered as the first victory at this level by a Polish team, too, after Asseco Prokom Gdynia stopped Olympiacos 81-78 on Tuesday to deny the visitors an early pass to the Final Four. Prokom's first victory in the best-of-five series means that Game 4 will also be played in Gdynia on Thursday. Olympiacos, which leads the series 2-1, wasn't in real striking distance of a sweep and Final Four berth until the closing minute, but a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer never reached the rim, so the fans in Gdynia went home with a piece of history. Daniel Ewing and Qyntel Woods led the winners with 18 points each, including 4 and 3 three-point strikes, respectively. David Logan followed with 15 points, none bigger than his running hook with 10 seconds left, putting Prokom up 80-76 and essentially sealing the victory. Jan Jagla was huge for the winners, too, with 10 points and 9 rebounds off the bench. Josh Childress was the big gun for Olympiacos , with 20 points, but otherwise the guests found little rhythm. Nikola Vujcic came off the bench to add 13 points, while Milos Teodosic added 12 and 9 assists. Prokom piled up leads as high as 16 points in the first half before Olympiacos slowly came back, but never had a game-winning chance, and its try to force overtime fell short, forcing Game 4.
Although Childress drew first blood for Olympiacos with a bank shot, Junior Harrington answered with a pair of driving backets for Prokom to go up 4-2. Olympiacos responded by going to Sofoklis Schortsanitis, who scored and hit the free throw to change the scoreboard to 4-5. Logan changed it back with an acrobatic layup, Childress did the same for Olympiacos and Adam Lapeta doubled his fun with two inside baskets to put the hosts up 10-7. Teodosic tied it up with a triple as the shots kept flying and hardly anyone was missing. Woods joined the scoring with his own face-up three-pointer. After a timeout, Childress and Woods exchanged baskets before Teodosic made one of the plays that mark him as a rising superstar, rebounding his own three-point miss to pass backward to Bourousis for a dunk. When a steal led to Kleiza dunking for a 15-16 Olympiacos lead, Prokom took timeout. The hosts found Varda for a go-ahead shot inside, then Logan upped the Prokom lead to 20-16 at the foul line. Loukas Mavrokefalidis got a basket back for Olympiacos, but Prokom finished strong as Jagla rebounded a miss and put it back for a 22-18 lead after 10 minutes
Logan kept Prokom's momentum going with a big triple to open the second quarter. When Logan shouldered past the Olympiacos defense for a layup, the hosts were threatening a double-digit edge at 27-18. Teodosic was ready with the answer, from long range, but after Varda hit 1 of 2 free throws, Jagla made a long tip-in at 30-21. Teodosic fed Papaloukas for a baseline layup. Ewing launched from way downtown to finally seize the double-digit lead, then Adam Hyrcaniuk put back yet another offensive rebound as Prokom soared ahead, 35-23, forcing an Olympiacos timeout. Nothing worked right away for the guests, though, and when Jagla raised and nailed a three-pointer, it was 38-23 for Prokom. The Reds finally found a pair of unanswered baskets from Vujcic, whose second jump-hook prompted Prokom to call timeout. Right after it, Ewing drilled a triple and then blasted to the hoop for a fastbreak dunk for an incredible 43-27 advantage. Vujcic free throws and a big shot-clock beater by Kleiza cut the difference to 43-31. A technical foul called on Kleiza led to Ewing hittnig 2 free throws that Teodosic matched to leave the hosts still in charge, 45-33 at halftime.
A wild start to the second half saw Bourousis down an inside shot and a three-pointer around a short basket by Varda. When Vujcic cut the difference to 47-40, however, Prokom took a timeout. Olympiacos kept up the pressure with a banked-in three-pointer by Childress at 48-43. Vujcic brought the visitors even closer with a long hook shot before Woods stopped the bleeding with an acrobatic basket and Jagla struck again from outside to make it 53-47. Vujcic kept attacking for Olympiacos, but Woods took his game outside for a triple. Next, Ewing made another great fastbreak layup in traffic, to raise the difference to 58-49. Kleiza answered with a jumper, but Ewing did him one better, drilling a triple at 61-51 to force another Olympiacos timeout. Out of their chat, the Reds got a triple from Papaloukas, but Prokom went to Lukasz Seweryn for their own. Scoonie Penn got the last one of the third quarter, however, beating the buzzer from downtwon as Olympiacos again lowered the difference to 64-57.
Varda and Schortsanitis traded baskets to open the final quarter, so when Childress got the next one for Olympiacos, the visitors were as close as 66-61. Prokom gave the ball to its go-to scorer, Woods, who drilled a triple. Childress went to his go-to move along the baseline, however, making the layup and free throw to keep it close, 69-64. Woods kept it going with a double-pump driving bank shot, and again Childress answered, scoring in traffic. A lull in the scoring at 71-66 was broken when Ewing lined up and nailed his fifth three-pointer in as many tries, making it 74-66 with just over 5 minutes to play. Olympiacos could not solve Prokom's zone, while a fastbreak layup by Logan restored a double-digit lead, 76-66. Papaloukas took a basket back for Olympiacos, but Woods flew in from the arc for a two-handed dunk in response. Another wait ended with Childress detonating a dunk, and after a Prokom timeout, Teodosic with a soft baseline one-hander to make it 78-72 with 2 minutes left. A full minute passed before Vujcic got to the foul line, making only 1 of 2, but his block against Ewing at the other end sent Kleiza on the break for a three-point jumper at 78-76 with 34 seconds left. Out of a Prokom timeout, the ball went to Logan who took it himself for a running hook over Childress that banked in, all but sealing the victory at 80-76 with 10 seconds left. Olympiacos got a quick put-back from Childress before the Reds put Logan on the line with 1.6 seconds left. He missed the first free throw and made the second, setting up a final try by Olympiacos from halfcourt. Papaloukas passed to Kleiza in the far corner, but his shot was touched by Logan, keeping Prokom alive for Game 4 at home.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010