Alba holds on for tough win; Prokom KO'd
Alba Berlin took care of business and all but sealed a Top 16 berth with a 67-64 victory over Asseco Prokom Gdynia at o2 World in the German capital. In fact Alba could still advance to the next stage if Maccabi Electra beats Elan Chalon in Tel Aviv later in the evening. Alba improved its record to 5-3 in Group B, while the Polish champs lost their fifth straight game to fall to 1-7 and lose any mathematical chance of playing past December. Alba led much of the game and extended the difference to 14 at the start of the fourth quarter, but Prokom never quit and rallied to within 1 on a Piotr Pamula three-pointer in the final minute, which set up a free throw contest at the finish. But while Alba stayed cool, Jerel Blassingame missed with 4.6 seconds left, Deon Thompson rebounded and Alba celebrated. Dashaun Wood paced the victors with 14 points and 5 assists, Zach Morley added 13 points, Deon Thompson 11 and Yassin Idbihi finished with 10. Rasid Mahalbasic led Prokom with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Likasz Koszarek added 10 points and 5 assists in defeat.
First quarter: Inside play of Thompson, Idbihi give Alba slim edge
A low-scoring start featured a handful of turnovers. Thompson fed Morely for a slam and the game’s first points. Thompson later converted a basket-plus-foul before Alex Acker got Prokom on the scoreboard with a triple. A Mahalbasic jumper tied it at 5-5 midway through the opening quarter before Lukasz Koszarek gave the visitors their first lead with a three-pointer. Idbihi, first with a hook and then with a mid-range jumper, put the hosts back in front. Wood assumed creative duties with a bounce pass to Nihad Djedovic and a lob to Idbihi for baskets, but Jerel Blassingame countered from downtown to knot the game at 13-13. A pair of Thompson free throws left the hosts in front 15-13 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Byars jumpers help hosts stretch lead to double figures
Mahalbasic and Koszarek scored for Prokom to tie the game at 15-15 and 17-17, but the hosts always responded to take the lead. A long jumper by Derrick Byars followed by Wood’s first points lifted Alba to 23-17. Krzysztof answered with a basket-plus-foul for the visitors, but Byars hit back from downtown to take the lead to 8. Despite a Blassingame triple, baskets by Heiko Schaffartzik and Morley made it 32-23. Schaffartzik made it a double-digit lead with a free throw, but Prokom would not fold. A Robert Witka three-pointer narrowed the gap to 34-28 just before the break. However Thompson was fouled at the basket with 0.6 seconds remaining and converted twice from the line to give his team a 36-28 halftime lead.
Third quarter: Wood ensures Berlins remains in control
Wood got Alba back up by 10 in the first minute of the third quarter. Despite the best efforts of Mahalbasic, Wood and Alba continued to extend the difference to 12 on several occasions. Witka drew Prokom within 44-36 only to see Thompson and Morley score the next 4 points. Koszarek connected from downtown, but Berlin never let Prokom get closer. A Sven Schultze jumper restored a double-digit lead, 52-41, through three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Prokom rallies to create exciting finish
Albert Miralles padded the hosts’ lead with a basket-plus foul on the first play of the fourth quarter. Acker netted free throws at the other end and Witka added 2 more to bring the Polish champs within 10. Berlin continued to struggle on the offensive end, while Mahalbasic scored down low to make it 56-49. A timeout did little to change Alba’s form. Piotr Pamula connected from outside and Blasingmae added a free throw to complete a 0-8 Prokom charge to get within 3 with just under five minutes to play. Morley ended a five-minute stretch without a basket for Berlin when he drilled a three. Prokom did not flinch as Acker scored, but a steal and layup for Wood kept the momentum with the hosts. Idbihi fouled out and Adam Hrycaniuk made the resulting free throws, 61-57 with two minutes to go. Then Miralles fouled out and Hrycaniuk netted another free throw. Wood got to the line with 55.8 seconds remaining and scored both to revive the hosts. However Piotr Szczotka got to the line and made 1 free throw, but missed the second and Prokom controlled the rebound. After a timeout, Pamula nailed a three from the corner to bring his team within 63-62 with 15 seconds to go. A free throw showdown ensued, with Wood making 2, then Koszarek doing the same. Morley went next to the line with 9 seconds left and converted twice. Alba sent Blassingame to the line with 4.6 seconds remaining. He missed the first, then the second intentionally and Thompson collected the rebound to secure the win.
Thursday, November 29, 2012