In another demonstration of its legitimate status as Group C contender, Idea Slask downed visiting Efes Pilsen 76-69 on Thursday in Wroclaw behind another incredible show from Euroleague scoring leader Lynn Greer. The victory gave both Slask and Efes 4-2 records, tying them for second place with Benetton Treviso behind 5-1 Pamesa Valencia. In his third consecutive game with 25 points or more, Greer poured in 27 on Thursday against the Euroleague's third-rated defense, including 7 of 8 free throws in the final 2 minutes. Adam Wojcik and Dominik Tomczyk helped the winners with 12 points each, and Ryan Randle 11, and those three combined for 16 rebounds as Slask won the battle on the glass, too, by 31-22. Efes, which led by 5 points after each of the first two quarters, got 13 points from Trajan Langdon, 11 each from Antonio Granger and Kaya Peker, plus 10 from Ender Arslan.
Granger opened the game with a three-pointer to put Efes ahead, but soon Wojcik and Randle, with back-to-back baskets, gave the hosts its first lead, 4-3. The guests took over early in the game, using a 2-10 run in which Arslan and Langdon scored one triple apiece to lead 6-13 midway through the quarter. A basket a Wojcik and a three-point play by Randle took Slask within two, 11-13, but Goran Nikolic scored two consecutive baskets before Lynn Greer score the final basket of the quarter. At the end of it, Efes had a four-point lead, 13-17.
Even when Greer opened the second quarter with a three-point play, nothing seemed to change for the hosts, as Slask struggled in the offensive end early in this quarter, while Granger made 7 points in a row to push Efes' lead to 16-25. Slask needed answers to break the guests' defense, and they found it from downtown. Tomczyk opened the hostilities with a three-pointer, specialist Tamel Tein added another one after a basket by Langdon. Slask completed a 12-2 with two more threes by Robert Skibiniewski, who made his only field goal attempt of the game, and another one from Tomczyk, which put the hosts ahead, 28-27. But Efes went into a 3-10 run late in the half, as Ermal Kuqo went on fire. He scored 8 points in 3 minutes, while Langdon added two more, to give Efes the lead once again at 31-37, before Greer, with a free throw, helped Slask to trail by 5, 32-37, at halftime.
Efes struggled in the beginning of the second half, as Slask's trademark zone defense, which have led them to success in the Euroleague this year, found another victim in Efes. Meanwhile, Greer decided it was time for him to shine. He scored 8 consecutive points, including a jumper and two unbelievable three-pointers, to put Slask ahead, 42-38, after 24 minutes. Even when Nikolic and Langdon helped Efes to get back into track in the offensive end, Slask found Wojcik and Tomczykin the middle, and a huge three-pointer by Greer, in front of his defender and already in his way down, gave Slask his biggest lead so far, 52-46. The guests mainly scored from the free throws line, as Langdon and Granger were slowed up to the point they could not even find any wide open shot. As such, Slask led, 54-51, entering the fourth.
Langdon made his second three-pointer of the night to tie the game at 54-54 early in the final period, turning the game into a thriller. But Granger and Langdon carried on struggling against Slask's defense, and even when Efes found Peker in the middle, scoring 9 points in the fourth quarter and adding some important offensive rebounds, it was not enough. Wojcik and Greer were leading their team, finishing the most important plays when the game was hotter. The hosts entered the final minute with a 68-63 lead, when Peker made a layup to cut the deficit. A carousel of free throws followed, in which Greer excelled, and a follow-up tip-in by Wojcik after a miss by Michal Ignerski sealed the win of the hosts, as Efes gave up.
Thursday, December 11, 2003
Andrzej Jaworski, Wroclaw