At the end of a back-and-forth struggle in Athens, Olympiacos managed to get back on track and escape with a 70-65 home win over visiting Prokom Trefl Sopot in a Group B duel on Wednesday. Nikos Hatzis and Renaldas Seibutis combined on a 7-0 finishing run, with all the points on free throws, as the Reds rallied from behind, where they had played much of the game. Olympiacos boosted its record to 2-3, the same as Prokom, good for position in the middle of the group standings. Hatzis was the best scorer for Olympiacos with 19 points, and Tyus Edney was the only other player in double digits with 12. For Prokom, Christian Dalmau led the way with his 21 points, Goran Jagodnik added 11 and Adam Wojcik and Filip Dylewicz netted 10 apiece. Despite losing the battle for the rebounds (29-35) and shooting only a 3 of 13 from the arc, Olympiacos stayed close enough and cool enough down the stretch to end a two-game losing streak.
Dalmau connected twice to open the scoring with a 4-0 lead for Prokom. Both teams shared some bad offensive decisions before Nikos Barlos passed the ball behind his back to Andrija Zizic, who scored a basket-plus-free throw to tie 4-4. Prokom reacted by taking the lead again, 7-11, as Wojcik and Dalmau dominated in one-on-one situations, forcing Olympiacos to change to zone defense. Indeed, Prokom shooters missed their next 5 shots, but the Reds failed to score, either, against the visitors steady defense. Big man Sofoklis Schortsianitis came off the bench to bear offensive responsibility in the paint for Olympiacos, but Prokom’s Jagodnik was the man to score an outstanding four-point-play with a three-pointer-plus-foul to make it 9-15. Olympiacos answered back soon with a good 7-0 run, scoring inside with Barlos and Schortsianitis to take the lead back at 16-15 in time for the end of the first quarter.
Istvan Nemeth broke the silence in the second quarter by hitting 2 of 3 free throws for a new Prokom lead, 16-17. The game’s tempo remained slow as defenses tightened and no one found easy shots, not even dependable shooters like Quincy Lewis of Olympiacos or Jagodnik of Prokom. The trouble proved bigger for Olympiacos as it went 3 minutes to start the quarter without scoring while Prokom built a 16-22 advantage on a layup by Dylewicz and a triple by Dalmau. Hatzis popped in a jumper to boost the hosts, but only for a while, because Dalmau again connected from downtown, giving Prokom its biggest margin yet, 20-28. As Olympiacos foundered on offense, Prokom raised the lead to 22-31 on a Jagodnik jumper. Christos Harissis saw things clear now and scored 3 layups for the Reds in a 7-0 run that proved important in trimming the difference to 29-31. Dalmau stepped up again for Prokom to make it 29-34 by halftime, having scored 16 of team's points by then.
After 7 misses, Olympiacos finally scored from behind the arc as Edney got the third quarter started with a three-pointer. Lewis added a jumper to erase the difference and tied the score 34-34. Dalmau was there to keep Prokom ahead, but only 2 minutes into the third quarter, the visitors had reached the team foul limit. Olympiacos had the privilege of 27 points coming from its bench players so far, but a starter, Barlos, put the Reds ahead at 38-36. Prokom found offensive solutions, however, and did not let Olympiacos run away. A big triple by Nemeth followed by another from Jagodnik meant that Prokom was ahead again at 42-46. Olympiacos faced trouble setting up the offense as the visitors again built a good lead, 45-52. Renaldas Seibutis and Edney made free throws to get the Reds within 49-52 after 30 minutes, as Prokom got bad news with Dalmau committing his fourth personal foul.
The fourth quarter started perfectly for Olympiacos, with a basket-plus-free throw by Seibutis and a big triple by Hatzis, as the hosts seized back a 55-52 lead in just a minute's time. Prokom finally reacted to the 10-0 Olympiacos run with a hook by Andersen, but Hatzis proved unstoppable, drilling another triple at 58-54. The guests managed to stay close mainly thanks to offensive rebounds, 9 so far. Dylewicz connected twice in the paint to bring Prokom even closer, at 60-58. The teams exchanged baskets until Tomas Pacesas nailed a big triple, his first points, to tie for Prokom at 63-63. Wojcik's free throws gave Prokom the lead again, at 63-65, with 3 minutes left. Free throws by Hatzis and Seibutis put the Reds back in front, 67-65, although they found it difficult to score from the floor. A couple of good defensive stands by the hosts led to Prokom errors, while Olympiacos kept on scoring free throws, with Hatzis making it 69-65. Barlos drew a key offensive foul on Nemeth with 40 seconds to go and there was not time left for Prokom to turn things around. Behind Hatzis 14 minutes in the second half, Olympiacos sealed an important 70-65 home win.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Stelios Kyriakoglou, Athens