Prokom Trefl Sopot held on for a thrilling 67-71 overtime win against Efes Pilsen
Prokom Trefl Sopot held on for a thrilling 67-71 overtime win against Efes Pilsen in Istanbul, Turkey, on Thursday to climb back into the battle for a spot in the Quarterfinal Playoffs from Group F. Prokom improved to 1-1 and now shares second place with Winterthur FC Barcelona, while Efes dropped to 0-2. The game looked to have been won by the Polish champs several times. First Prokom built a seemingly insurmountable 16-point lead in the fourth quarter, but a three-point barrage by Drew Nicholas and Antonio Granger accounted for a 12-1 run that carried the hosts back. Prokom also had the ball on the last play of regulation. Michael Andersen drove to the hoop for a slam at the buzzer, allowing his team to celebrate. However, after reviewing the play on the TV monitors, the referees ruled that the ball was still in the center's hands when the horn sounded and waived off the basket. But Prokom didn't break in overtime either and earned its first ever win against Efes after losing in eight previous tries – all in the last three seasons. Rashid Atkins led Prokom with 16 points – including 4 clutch free throws in the final minute. Filip Dylewicz matched a career-high with 15, Huseyin Besok posted 14 and Andersen finished with 11. Nicholas led Efes with 18 and Marcus Haislip added 12 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots in defeat.
Prokom Trefl got off to a fast start with Atkins, whose 5 points – including a three-pointer – gave Prokom a 1-7 lead after 2-and-a-half minutes. But Efes didn’t waste any time in stopping the visitors and taking control of the game. Horace Jenkins made two of three free throws midway through the opening period to cap an 8-1 run and give Efes the lead. Prokom continued to move the ball faster on offense, but kept on missing, while Efes put pressure on its opponent inside via Haislip. Cuneyt Erden’s missile from 10 meters ended the first quarter with the hosts ahead 16-11.
Prokom started the second quarter on fire. Back-to-back layup plus free throws from Andersen and a jumper from Dylewicz accounted for a 0-8 run and a 3-point lead for the visitors. Antonio Granger, fresh in for Mustafa Abi, hit a three-pointer from the right corner to tie the game again at 19-19. But despite the strong efforts on defense, Efes missed attempts one after another at the other end as Prokom extended the lead to 5 points through Christian Dalmau's three. Prokom continued to take advantage of Efes's offensive struggles as Atkins's triple extended the lead to 21-31. Efes added a point from Jenkins's free throw, but Dylewicz gave Prokom an 11-point lead. In the final minutes of the half, Efes was able to cut the deficit as a Marcus Haislip alley-oop made it 26-33 at halftime.
Prokom continued to control the tempo in the third quarter while Efes threw up panic shots and kept missing as well. Dylewicz's three midway through the period gave the visitors a 12-point lead. Atkins then hit a jumper from the post as the 24-second clock sounded to make it 30-44. The hosts tried to stop Prokom with a half-court zone press, but the visitors were in good shape and didn’t let up, cruising to a 39-50 lead after 30 minutes.
After a pair of jumpers at the end of the last quarter, Besok rocked Efes at the start of the fourth quarter, too. His three-pointer two-and-a-half minutes in was followed by a Donatas Slanina jumper, which gave Prokom its biggest lead of the night, 41-57. But then Efes roared back. Granger got things started with a three, Nicholas hit two more and Granger added another three to complete a 12-1 run and get within 53-58. With less than three minutes remaining, Haislip cut it to 59-60 from the line, but Andersen’s single free throw put the visiting side up 2. Cenk Akyol tied the game at 61-61 with 1:22 on the clock. Both sides then missed crucial shots one after another. After Cenk Akyol missed a three-pointer with 19 seconds remaining, Prokom had one last chance. Andersen had the ball and moved inside from the baseline and threw down a slam as the horn sounded. The basket was at first awarded, but the referees reviewed the play according to Euroleague by-laws approved in the last year concerning instant replays that apply to end-of-game circumstances. After watching the replay on the court-side monitors, the referees ruled that the ball was still in the center's hands when the buzzer went off and they waived off the basket. And the game went into overtime tied at 61-61.
Efes had the first lead in the overtime when Nicholas made one of two free throws. Prokom answered with Dylewicz, but Nicholas hit a three to lead Efes to a 65-63 lead. However a determined side from Sopot used layups by Besok and Dylewicz and Atkins's free throws to make it 65-69. Haislip's dunk in the waning seconds didn’t change anything and Atkins hit another pair of free throws to seal the score at 67-71 for Prokom.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Gökhan Türe, Istanbul