Prokom Trefl stunned Olympiacos Piraeus 63-59 in Group A on Thursday night at the 100 Years Arena in Sopot, Poland, to throw its hat in the ring as a contender for the best sixth-placed team and a spot in the Top 16. After struggling all season long – with the lowest point arguably being a 109-65 capitulation at Olympiacos in November – the Polish champs have now won back-to-back games for the first time this season to improve to 3-9. Although still an underdog, Prokom does have a chance now to play on till March. Meanwhile Olympiacos, coming off an uplifting win over CSKA last week. Suffered its lowest scoring game of the season to fall out of a tie for second place in the group. Olympiacos is now 7-5 this season. The game was close from start to finish, with neither team ever leading by more than 8. The Reds led 40-46 early in the fourth quarter, but Milan Gurovic, who carried Prokom for most of the night with a season-high 28 points, hit big shot after big shot down the stretch to keep Prokom alive. Tomas Van den Spiegel gave the hosts the lead for good with a basket on the offensive glass, 59-58, and with Lynn Greer fouling out on the next play and Gurovic converting a clutch basket, Prokom was able to take the big upset. Van den Spiegel finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Marc Jackson posted 18 points and 11 rebounds for Olympiacos, which was without the injured Arvydas Macijauskas, Jake Tsakalidis and Kostas Vasiliadis. Giannis Bouroussis added 11 in defeat.
Milos Teodosic got the Reds going with a running jumper, as Prokom had trouble to score in the early going. Filip Dylewicz shined with a big basket in the low post, but free throws by Jackson put Olympiacos back ahead, 2-4. Van den Spiegel provided a highlight with a put-back dunk that Jackson erased with a five-meter jumper, as the game turned into a physical battle. Jackson shined again with a tip-in for a 4-8 Olympiacos edge. Van den Spiegel answered with a hook shot, but Bouroussis found his first points on a put-back basket. Donatas Slanina answered from downtown to bring Prokom within 9-10. Jackson sank another jumper and Greer fed Bouroussis for an easy basket, good for a 9-14 Olympiacos lead. Van den Spiegel hit foul shots and Christos Harissis buried a triple from the top the key to tie it at 14-14 at the end of the first quarter.
The Reds looked to pull away as Jackson and Georgios Printezis scored quick basket to start the second period. Rod Blakney followed with another and while Prokom was committing turnover after turnover, Panagiotis Vasilopoulos capped a 0-8 spurt with a triple off a Printezis pass. However a big Gurovic three was a boost to Prokom’s morale and soon he added a basket plus foul to bring the hosts within 22-24. Bouroussis stepped up and hit one from downtown, however Van den Spiegel continued the Prokom fight with a powerful two-handed slam. Slanina’s next basket got Prokom within a single point. Bouroussis drew a foul from Tomas Masiulis and sank 2 free throws, however Gurovic had another three-point play in him to get Prokom back to 29-29 by halftime. It marked Olympiacos’s lowest-scoring first half of the season.
Gurovic blasted another three to give Prokom the lead at the start of the second half. Bouroussis kept the Reds close with free throws, but Slanina, who was fouled shooting a triple, made a pair from the line. Loukas Mavrokefalides fired in a jumper for his first points, which Van den Spiegel cancelled from the line. The game continued to be dominated by the defenses, as most of the points were coming from perimeter shots. Jovo Stanojevic made it 38-35, but Greer hit a triple to tie it. Slanina fed Krzysztof Roszyk for an easy score, but the Reds then rallied of the next 6 points from Mavrokefalides and Jackson to finish the third period with a 40-44 lead.
Van den Spiegel lost the ball on the fast break and Jackson capitalized to put the Reds up 6 early in the fourth quarter. But Van den Spiegel made up for that with a bucket in the paint and then Gurovic drilled another triple to keep his team close. Jackson was Olympiacos’s prime weapon now and he added a jumper to make it 45-50. Gurovic carried the hosts back to within 2 from the line and then he put the Polish champs back in the lead with a sweet three-pointer. Greer came right back with a jumper to put the Reds on top once more and then Vasilopoulos made a three-point play to give the visitors a small cushion. Van den Spiegel kept it a one-possession game with a free throw and after Mavrokefalides scored in the paint, Gurovic drilled a three from the corner that made it 55-57. A Greer free throw boosted Olympiacos, but Gurovic surpassed his season-high of 25 points with free throws that got Prokom within 1. Van den Spiegel scored on the offensive glass to give Prokom the lead and at the other end, Jackson’s basket was cancelled for an offensive foul called on Greer – his fifth. With Greer out, Gurovic made a Masiulis airball look like a great pass for an easy basket as Prokom went up by 3. Teodosic made only one free throw and Slanina, who grabbed the rebound, was fouled. Slanina made 2 to ice the win and Jackson’s last three-point attempt bounced out leaving the hosts to celebrate a 63-59 victory.
Thursday, January 17, 2008