Adecco Estudiantes broke its two-game losing streak in Group A by beating Prokom Trefl Sopot 75-67 at home in Madrid, Spain, on Wednesday night. Both teams now join a three-way tie for the fourth spot in Group A standings along with Cibona VIP, all with 2-3 records. Estudiantes rolled in the first half due to a defensive exhibition, as Prokom made just 9 of 41 shot attempts before halftime. The guests rallied to a 69-65 deficit with 2 minutes to go, but failed to complete their comeback. Ruben Garces led the winners with a big double-double, 21 points and 14 rebounds. He scored 7 of 11 two-pointers and 7 of 8 free throws. Iker Iturbe added 15 points and Nikola Loncar had 14 for Estudiantes. Goran Jagodnik led all Prokom scorers with 13 points, but made just 5 of 19 shots. Adam Wojcik and Istvan Nemeth each had 11 points while Mike Miller had 10 for the guests.
Prokom started the game with great intensity, grabbing 3 offensive rebounds in the opening minute, but the misses that led to them showed how the guests were off-target to begin with and didn't score for almost 5 minutes. Estudiantes didn't shoot much better, but a jumper by Iturbe, layup by Carlos Jimenez free throws by Loncar were good for a 6-0 lead. Tomas Pacesas finally got Prokom going with a three-pointer and 2 free throws to make it 6-5. Jimenez answered with a mid-range jumper, and as Estudiantes continued defending well, Garces added a breakaway dunk and Loncar a triple for a 9-0 run and a 15-5 advantage. Tomas Masiulis stepped up with a tip-in and Jagodnik a jump shot as Prokom got within 17-9 after 10 minutes, but the guests had connected on just 3 of 19 shots in the quarter.
Prokom had already switched to 3-2 defense, but Sergio Rodriguez broke it with a floating layup early in the second quarter. Jagodnik answered buried Prokom's second three in 13 attempts, but points came slow for the guests. Meanwhile, Hernan Jasen and Andres Miso boosted the Estudiantes to a 23-12 edge after 13 minutes, then Rodriguez provided some showtime with a three-pointer and a no-look pass to Garces for a fastbreak layup. Prokom scored just 1 point in more than 3 minutes until Wojcik's tip-in made it a 12-point game, 27-15. Soon, however, Miso followed Iturbe's three with a short jumper to double Prokom on the scoreboard, 34-17. Wojcik and Andrija Ciric combined on 8 quick points in the final minutes to bring Prokom within 42-27 at halftime.
Estudiantes commited back-to-back turnovers after the break, allowing Pacesas and Mark Miller to cut Prokom's deficit to 42-31. Neither team was shooting well, but Iturbe stepped up with a three that extended the Estudiantes lead to 47-33, then Jagodnik answered from downtown and Miller added a layup off another steal to pull the guests within 49-40 after 25 minutes. Estudiantes struggled against Prokom's zone defense, but Jimenez grabbed an offensive board for a put-back dunk and Loncar added a three in a 7-3 run that powered the lead back up to 56-43. Despite a final basket by Miller, Estudiantes kept a 58-47 lead after 30 minutes.
It was do-or-die time for Prokom, but it took the guests almost 2 minutes of the fourth quarter to score. Meanwhhile Garces grabbed 2 defensive rebounds and added a basket to extend the lead to 62-47. Prokom tried to rally with baskets by Harold Jamison and Nemeth, but Garces was unstoppable at both ends. Even so, Nemeth stepped up with a corner triple to bring Prokom within 64-54 with 5 minutes to go. Estudiantes had trouble scoring now, and Prokom used a 0-9 run in which Darius Maskoliunas fired in from downtown and Jagodnik added a long two-pointer to bring the guests within 69-65 with less than 2 minutes to go. The local fans started to hold their breath, but the suspense didn't last long. Garces sealed his extraordinary game with 2 free throws, while Loncar followed a five-meter jumper with a fastbreak layup to seal Estudiantes' second win.
Wednesday, December 1, 2004