History accompanied the very first week of the 2005-06 Euroleague Basketball season, and it will come as no surprise which team generated it! As back-to-back champ Maccabi downed Prokom 95-68 in Group B on Thursday, none other than all-Euroleague center Nikola Vujcic recorded the very first triple-double in Euroleague history: 11 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. He had plenty help, too. One Maccabi newcomer, Kirk Penney, made his first five shots on the way to 19 points, while another, Jamie Arnold, finished with 17. Anthony Parker added 12, Derrick Sharp 11 and Maceo Baston 10. For Prokom, Istvan Nemeth put up 17 points, while Adam Wojcik had 14 and Goran Jagodnik 12.
It took only 11 seconds for Parker to ignite the crowd as he drove to the basket and converted a three-point play, but that didn't faze Prokom at all. The visitors didn't allow Maccabi any easy shots, the hosts couldn't make the difficult ones, and a pair of jumpers by Nemeth helped Prokom pull ahead 7-10. Maccabi continued to have trouble establishing any momentum – missing 6 of 7 shots at one point – while Prokom registered success on the offensive glass and on the break to build a 12-19 advantage. Maccabi coach Pini Gershon called a rare first-quarter timeout with 2 minutes to go and subbed captain Derrick Sharp and newcomer Kirk Penney for Will Solomon and Tal Burstein. The move worked as Sharp drew a foul shooting a three-pointer and made all the free throws. Then, Penney drilled three-pointers on the next two possessions to tie the score. Anthony Parker capped the 11-2 run with a jumper to make it 23-21 at the end of the quarter.
Penney remained hot at the start of the second by draining a pair of jumpers, but Wojcik answered both for Prokom. Nikola Vujcic finally found the way to attack Prokom from within, twice drawing the interior defenders to him before unleashing Yaniv Green for dunks. Their play – along with a pair of acrobatic Parker moves – helped Maccabi go on a 9-0 run for a 38-28 lead. A Jeff Nordgaard three-pointer ended the run, but it didn't change much as Sharp immediately hit from the other arc. Maceo Baston's three points inside gave Maccabi a 46-35 lead and that's how the half ended.
Goran Jagodnik found his touch as the second half started, but Prokom struggled on the defensive end and Maccabi started to pull away, with Vujcic displaying an array of skills. The all-Euroleague center first fed Baston for a two-handed dunk to start a 12-0 run, during which he converted a pair of three-point plays and Maccabi raced ahead 58-40. Prokom never gave in and before long a Tomas Masiulis three trimmed the Maccabi lead to single digits. However Maccabi brought in a fresh Jamie Arnold from the bench and he helped the hosts rebuild to 72-56 at the end of 30 minutes.
Sharp intercepted a pass in the back court and went in for an uncontested lay-up on the first play of the fourth quarter, prompting Prokom coach Eugeniusz Kijewski to whistle for timeout. Prokom came out a bit more grounded afterwards, but still had trouble finding the hole. Meanwhile, Arnold inside and Penney outside padded the lead as it grew to 85-59 – the last basket coming on a behind-the-back pass to Arnold from Vujcic that made him the first player in the history of the Euroleague to record a triple-double. After Sharon Shason replaced Vujcic to a loud standing ovation, the game became for protocol only. Arnold beat the 24-second clock with a three in the closing seconds to seal the scoring as Maccabi won 95-68.
Thursday, November 3, 2005