Prokom Trefl Sopot became the first-ever Polish team to make it to the Top 16 by beating Adecco Estudiantes 78-74 at home in Sopot, Poland, in Group A on Wednesday night. In a victory that rewrites Polish basketball history, Prokom improved to 6-6 in the standings and is fifth in the standings, three victories ahead of Estudiantes with two games to go. Estudiantes, now 3-9, retains a slim chance to reach the next round, but only as the best sixth-place team overall, for which it would probably need to win the last two games. Istvan Nemeth and Adam Wojcik led the winners each with 20 points. Tomas Pacesas added 9 points and 8 assists, while Goran Jagodnik grabbed key rebounds at the finish to seal the historic victory. Iker Iturbe led Estudiantes with 13 points, Andrae Patterson added 12, Nikola Loncar 11 while Carlos Jimenez, Ruben Garces and Andres Miso each had 10 for Estudiantes. Free throws by Jagodnik, Pacesas and Nemeth in the final 17 seconds sealed the win for the hosts, as Sopot started to celebrate the success of its team.
Jagodnik opened fire with a bomb from downtown for Prokom, and added a long two-pointer the glass to give the hosts a 5-2 lead after 3 minutes. Estudiantes committed 3 turnovers in the opening minutes of the game, as its shooters were off-target even from the free throw line, while Wojcik fired in a triple for a 8-2 Prokom margin. Garces tried to wake Estudiantes up with a two-handed dunk, while Iker Iturbe added a left-handed layup to bring the guests back into the game at 8-6. Pacesas drilled another three for Prokom, but Garces stepped up with a jump hook and Jimenez added a basket-plus-foul to tie the game, 11-11. Andrija Ciric broke the guests' 2-3 zone defense with a floating layup which a red hot Jimenez matched in the other end, while Nikola Loncar added free throws to give Estudiantes its first lead, 13-15. A put-up back layup by Masiulis and a power dunk by Aleksandar Radojevic made Prokom regain a 17-16 margin after 10 minutes.
Both teams went scoreless in the opening 2 minutes of the second until Jasen fed Garces for an easy basket. Istvan Nemeth immediately answered from downtown, but Andrae Patterson copied that in the other end for a 20-21 Estudiantes edge. Free throws by Radojevic and a layup in penetration by Nemeth put Prokom back in charge at 24-21, as the game turned into a physical battle in both ends of the floor. Jagodnik had to return to the bench with 4 fouls midway through the second and Prokom missed its top gun. A put-back basket by Patterson ignited a 2-8 run which Jasen capped with a fast break dunk, forcing Prokom to call timeout at 26-29. Prokom started to power the offensive rebound looking for second chance points, while Wojcik drilled his second three to tie the game again, 29-29. Nemeth had time to nail back-to-back triples to keep a 35-35 tie at halftime.
Prokom tried to reak the game after the break, as Pacesas fired in one from downtown which Wojcik followed with a layup which turned into a three-point play to give Prokom a 41-35 lead. Iturbe tried to change things with a corner three, but Estudiantes now struggled against Prokom's man-to-man defense. Masiulis scored around the basket and Ciric added a four-meter jumper to make the hosts keep a 47-41 edge after 24 minutes. Miso stepped up for Estudiantes with a long jumper, but the guests could not find the way to the basket. Ciric drew Iturbe's fourth foul and made free throws while Wojcik's fallaway jumper turned into a 51-45 Prokom margin. The hosts had full control of the game now, with good shot selection and extraordinary defense. Jagodnik found a second-chance basket and Wojcik added an easy layup to force an Estudiantes timeout at 58-49. Nemeth came off it with a tough reverse layup, capping a 9-2 run which gave Prokom a double-digit lead, 60-49, after 30 minutes.
Estudiantes needed a quick comeback to get into the game, and an unsportsman foul that let Loncar hit 2 free throws helped. Patterson added a short jumper to make it a seven-point game, 60-53. Prokom got back in track with Wojcik's third three-pointer. Miller's first basket gave prokom a double-digit lead again, 67-57 with 5 minutes to go. Miso and Loncar combined 4 quick points to give Estudiantes some hope at 67-61. It was do-or-die time, but Pacesas free throws and Miller layup off a steal kept a double-digit margin at 71-61. Now, however, Estudiantes rallied. Miso drilled a corner triple and Iturbe had 5 points in a 1-9 run to bring Estudiantes within 72-70. Jagodnik grabbed a key offensive rebound in the final minute that allowed Miller to slash to the basket for a 74-70 edge with 41 seconds remaining. Iturbe made a layup, but Jasen missed around the basket in the following play and Jagodnik grabbed that rebound, too. He went to the line, made the first free throw and not the second, but grabbed that rebound, too, allowed Pacesas to go the line and stretch the lead to 76-72 with 9.6 seconds, after which teh home players and fans started to celebrate Prokom's entry into the Top 16!
Wednesday, January 26, 2005