Efes Pilsen held off a stubborn Prokom Trefl Sopot 71-67 in a thrilling Group A encounter on Thursday night in Istanbul, Turkey. Horace Jenkins led four Efes Pilsen players in double figures as his team upped its record against Prokom to 7-0 in the last three seasons. The game was knotted at 51-51 after three quarters, before Keren Gonlum gave the hosts the lead for good. However Prokom never caved in and was often just one shot away from tying the game. But Efes made its foul shots down the stretch to secure the victory. Gonlum scored 12, Cenk Akyol 11 and Drew Nicholas 10 for the winning side. Former Efes player Huseyin Besok dominated inside to the tune of 16 points and 7 rebounds for Prokom before fouling out. Christain Dalmau added 12 and Tomas Masiulis was good for 5 points and 14 rebounds.
Defenses ruled most of the first quarter while both teams struggled to score. Jenkins opened the scoring for the 2006-07 season for Efes in the 47th second with a layup. He then guard made another layup for the best lead of Efes in the first period, 6-2. But after bringing in Dalmau for Donatas Slanina in the fifth minute, Prokom took control of the game. Dalmau's three-pointer tied the score and before Tomas Masiulis brought Prokom the lead at 8-10. Prokom defended Efes very well by coming back from offense very quickly to not letting Efes fastbreak. Dalmau made it 8-12 with another jumper at before Bora Hun Pacun tipped in the ball for Efes to end the first quarter 10-12.
It was the same scene in the second period, too. Prokom kept on leading the game, but not by much, as Jeff Nordgaard's three-pointer made the score 16-20 midway through the quarter. That's when Efes caught a 6-0 wave to take the lead back on a dunk by Nicholas dunked that made it 22-20. Both teams defended well and forced the opposing players to make many off-balance attempts. Slanina returned with a three-pointer to take the lead back for Prokom before Nikola Prkacin's layup reduced the difference to 29-30 at the end of the half. Dalmau led all scorers with 10 points at that time.
Much like he did at the end of the first, Slanina hit another triple to get the second half started with Prokom holding a 29-33 lead. The visitors were then able to take their best leas yet, 30-35, by the hand of an ex-Efes player, Besok. Cenk Akyol made a jumper and Jenkins added another three-pointer as the lead once again changed hands in favor of Efes, 43-41 midway through the quarter. But Prokom stayed at it, mostly with inside dominance by Besok, who scored a total of 8 points in this quarter. The game went back and forth for the rest of the quarter and ended with a 51-51 tie after 30 minutes.
Efes had a better start to the last 10 minutes and took the control of the match for the rest of the game. Marcus Haislip got things going with a three-pointer to make the score 57-53 and even though Besok answered with a layup to get Prokom within 57-56, it was the visitors' last gasp for awhile. Efes took off on a 7-0 run in a span of 3 minutes then to increase the lead up to 8 points, 64-56, with the free throws by Nicholas and Prkacin. But Prokom didn’t give up the fight. After having Besok back at the bench due to a shoulder injury, they kept on following Efes as Rashid Atkins and Filip Dylewicz and cut the differance to three points, 64-61, with less than 3 minutes left. But the efforts of Prokom changed nothing in the remaining time. Nicholas hit 1 of 2 free throws with 15 seconds left to end the threat and preserve a 71-67 victory for Efes Pilsen.