Behind one of the top individual performances in the Euroleague this decade, Prokom Trefl Sopot discarded its troubles and put its name in the win column with a tipoff-to-buzzer 75-87 road win over Virtus VidiVici Bologna in Group A on Wednedsay. The man of the game from the first shot to the last was Prokom center Tomas Van den Spiegel, who exploded for 27 points and 14 rebounds while amassing an index rating of 50, tied for the sixth-highest ever. Van den Spiegel made 11 of 11 free throws and 8 of 11 two-point shots on the night. He and two teammates combined for 77 of Prokom's points. Donatas Slanina led all scorers with 28 points, including 4 from downtown, while DaJuan Wagner added 22. Virtus got 22 points from Dewarick Spencer, many of those in the final quarter, while Delonte Holland added 19 and Alan Anderson 16. After having trailed by more than 20 in the final quarter, Virtus got all the way back to within 70-75 with just over 2 minutes left before Van den Spiegel scored 6 more points in a row to put the wraps on Prokom's victory.
Prokom stepped on-court the right way as Van den Spiegel's finger-roll and Dejuan Wagner's 5 straight points made it 0-7 after 3 minutes. It took 3 minutes, 23 seconds for Virtus to find the hole as Luca Garri nailed a three-pointer. Another triple, this time by Holland, revived Virtus after Prokom had reached a 3-11 advantage on Donatas Slanina's free throws. Van den Spiegel's pair from the line made it 6-13 after 7 minutes, but Andrea Crosariol closed a fastbreak with a big dunk. Van den Spiegel was simply dominating, however, grabbing plenty of offensive rebounds to give his team extra possessions. He also went 4-for-4 from the foul line in the closing minute, scoring his 10th point in the quarter to match Virtus all by himself as Prokom enjoyed a 10-17 lead after 10 minutes.
Dewarick Spencer's floater opened the second quarter for Virtus, but Slanina soon took off on an amazing 11-point personal run, including 3 consecutive three-pointers, to push Prokom up by 16 points, 12-28. Virtus got all of them back, however, as Anderson, Guillerme Giovannoni and Holland all struck from beyond the arc to help the hosts cut the difference to 11 points, 21-32. Virtus improved its offense as Holland and Will Conroy added buckets, but it remained soft in defense. Prokom newcomer Mustafa Shakur easily fed Van den Spiegel and Wagner scored on fastbreak to establish a new maximum lead of 25-42. Anderson and Holland trimmed the gap for Virtus as the teams headed to the lockers with a 31-44 score as Slanina had scored 15 points in the quarter and 17 overall.
Roberto Chiacig scored 4 consecutive points to open the third quarter and bring Virtus within 9 points, 35-44, after just 2 minutes. But Prokom soon replied with a 2-11 run in which Christos Harissis landed a three-pointer, Slanina scored 5 straight points and Van den Spiegel hit a low-post basket-plus-free throw for another high lead, 37-55, midway through the quarter. Wagner wide-open triple enlarged the guests' lead up to 19 points, 39-58. Virtus wings Holland and Anderson tried to bring the team on their shoulder as they combined for 6 points in two minutes making it 45-60. Dejuan Wagner, however, hit a corner triple to give Prokom a new 18-point lead, 45-63, before Anderson narrowed it to 47-63 in minute 30.
Van den Spiegel took over the scene again in the beginning of the fourth quarter, scoring back-to-back baskets to restore an 18-point lead, 49-67. Wagner helped the guests reach the 20-point margin at 49-69, while a three-pointer by Harissis and two free-throws by Slanina set a 53-74 scoreboard. Spencer now tried to rally Virtus as he scored 11 points in 2 minutes to open a big run and trim the gap to 8 points, 66-74. Slanina gave a breath to Prokom with a foul shot but then Spencer and Holland made it 70-75 with 2 minutes to go. Harissis, on the line, added only 1 of 2 free throws while Van den Spiegel took advantage of a missed reverse layup by Anderson to go 2-on-2 from the line for a 70-78 Prokom lead. Spencer hit a three-pointer but it was too late for the hosts as Van den Spiegel - who else? - scored on an impressive hook and finished his marvelous night with the free throws that iced the first Prokom Trefl Sopot win in Euroleague. Prokom Trefl Sopot head coach Eugeniusz Kijewski:
"We knew it was going to be a tough game. It was our last opportunity if we wanted to challenge for the Top 16. We also had a problem with Gurovic, who did not play because of illness. But we played smart and we won the game. Wagner suffered a little knee injury, so he could have played even better." Prokom Trefl Sopot center Tomas Van den Spiegel.
"This game was our last chance to stay in the running and we exploited it You don’t know how difficult it was without three main players like Best, Wolkowyski and Gurovic. We just thought every player should have given more than the average. And we did it. I didn’t see at my stats. I am happy for the win, but we must be honest and say that Virtus is not in the best moment now. With only seven players, we couldn’t win against the top teams in the group. It was special for me to come back to Bologna and before the game I told the Virtus owner that this was going to be my personal derby, after my unforgettable years with Fortitudo. This gave me the spur to play this way." Virtus VidiVici Bologna forward Dewarick Spencer:
“I don’t know why we started to play so late in the game. They built good shots and gave the best for the most of the game, but I am very disappointed about the loss. I don’t know what to do except to work hard and try to find a solution. I am sure we have all the tools to be a tough Euroleague team, but we are losing too many games.”
Wednesday, November 14, 2007