The first-ever Euroleague game in Sopot, Poland brought disappointment to home supporters there but resurrection for visitors Real Madrid, who defeated Prokom Trefl 61-69 to chalk up a first victory in Group A. Madrid used stifling defense to take control in the second quarter and even its record at 1-1, the same as Prokom. Veteran shooter Albert Herreros came of the bench to lead Madrid with 17 points, including 5 three-point strikes. Antonis Fotis and Louis Bullock both added 15 points, although it was Madrid's team defensive effort, particularly inside, that made the difference. Goran Jagodnik led all scorers with 23 points, while Mark Miller was the only other Prokom player in double figures, with 11 points.
The game began with a battle between Jagodnik and Bullock, who scored the first 6 points for their teams. Jagodnik opened with 2 layups that Bullock matched in one four-point play. Only those two were able to find open shots against tough defenses from both sides. As such, neither team was able to escape by more than 3 points. In the eighth minute, Madrid was up10-13 following Bullock's free throws, but Prokom used defense close the period with 6 consecutive points, 4 of them from Miller, who came off the bench to put his team in front, 16-13, after 10 minutes.
Madrid center Pat Burke opened the second quarter with 4 consecutive points before Tomas Pacesas responded to take back the lead for Prokom. That, however, would be Prokom's last lead of the game. Madrid took off on a 2-11 run then which Antonio Bueno finished with an inside basket that had the visitors in front 18-24 in the 14th minute. Prokom's bad shot selection made it easy on the Madrid defense now. The home team's first three-point shot finally fell in the 18th minute off the hand of Andrija Ciric, pulling Prokom within 26-29, but Madrid moved to take control again. Fotsis and Mario Stojic buried back-to-back triples to boost Madrid to a 26-37 halftime lead and make things tough on the home team.
The first minutes of the third quarter saw a basket-for-basket battle that kept Prokom from closing the gap.When Burke and Moustapha Sonko made 1 free throw each, Madrid led 32-44. Now, Prokom started playing more as a team and Jagodnik rose up with 5 points in a 0-7 run that made it 39-44. But just when the Sopot fans thought Prokom was back in the game, Herreros and Bullock fastly shared 3 quick three-pointers to send the guests way in front again. Prokom raised hopes again with 5 unanswered points soon after that, but Madrid still held onto a solid 48-55 advantage after 30 minutes.
Madrid took a stranglehold on the scoreboard when Herreros buried his fourth three-pointer for a 51-62 lead after 34 minutes. With the way Madrid's defense had held down Prokom all night, that lead loomed even larger. By the time Herreros hit his fifth triple, with 4 minutes to play, Madrid was still holding an 11-point lead, 55-66, and using over 20 seconds on every possesion to drain the clock. Even when Jagodnik could make a three-pointer for Prokom, Fotsis answered with a dunk. The closest Prokom got again was 61-67, but when Adam Wojcik missed with 50 seconds left, Prokom was out of chances and Madrid had its first Group A victory.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Andrzej Jaworski, Poland