A 10th game in three seasons between them saw Efes Pilsen reestablish its winning ways against Prokom with a 64-72 road win to close out the Top 16 and the Euroleague season for both teams. Efes raised its record to 2-4 and took third place in Group F with the victory. Prokom finished last at 1-5, but had broken its eight-game losing streak against Efes earlier with the only Top 16 victory ever by a Polish team. After being injured most of the season, Antonio Granger had his best game of the Top 16 for Efes with 23 points. Ermal Kuqo added 13 and Drew Nicholas 10. Jasmin Hukic popped for 15 points and Donatas Slanina 14 for Prokom.
Kuqo got Efes going on the right foot with a pair of quick jumpers to which Granger added a layup for a 0-6 start. Slanina lit up Prokom's side of the scoreboard with a three-pointer, while Besok scored the hosts' next 5 points, but Efes stayed ahead by going to its big men, Kuqo and Marcus Haislip. After Granger and Slanina traded triples, Kuqo boosted his point total to 9 already as Efes went ahead 11-16. Granger soon added his second strike from the arc, while Haislip detonated a dunk with a free throw as bonus to make it 13-22. Slanina and Michael Andersen got 5 points back for Prokom, but Niksa Prkacin finished the quarter with a bucket that left Efes holding an 18-24 edge.
Prkacin opened the second quarter with another basket to which Erden Cuneyt added free throws for the first double-digit lead, 18-28. Andersen and Slanina, from downtown, cut the difference in half, but Granger kept scoring to lift it back up again to 11 points, 23-34, for the visitors. After Jasmin Hukic broke a scoreless minute for Prokom, Granger was back with a new three-pointer at 25-37. The teams were content to trade baskets over the last few minutes of the half until Kerem Gonlum's slam dunk led them to the lockers with Efes still clearly in charge at 31-45.
Granger added to the Efes lead after the break before Rashid Atkins, Andersen and Adam Wojcik scored the next 8 points to pull Prokom within 39-47. A lull in the scoring ended with Nicholas landing a shot from the arc to reestablish a double-digit lead, 39-50. Slaninas and Atkins brought it back down to 43-50 before Kuqo, Baris Hersek and Nicholas ended the quarter with a 0-9 barrage that had the guests back in the driver's seat, up 43-59 after 30 minutes.
The Sopot fans saw a shooting contest as Christian Dalmay and Hukic of Prokom hit 3 triples between them while Granger and Hersek each hit his own for Efes to start the final quarter. That left a 52-65 scoreboard that the hosts kept firing away to reduce. The difference fell to 59-67. Almost 3 scoreless minutes followed until Hukic blasted a triple and buouyed Prokom's hopes at 62-67, but Granger matched him to end the threat as Efes left Poland with third place in Group F.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007