Prokom Trefl Sopot took a major step towards its goal of making the Top 16 when it overcame a slow start to turned back hopeful Olympiacos 77-71 in an important Group A decision on Wednesday. The victory raised Prokom's record to 5-5, good for a hold on fifth place in the group, while dropping Olympiacos all but mathematically out of the picture at 2-8. Olympiacos had led by 12 points early in the second quarter, but soon after Prokom took control as Istvan Nemeth came off the bench to score 8 of his eventual 16 points. Goran Jagodnik led the winners with 18 points while Mark Miller added 11 of his 13 in the decisive third period. Boris Gorenc scored 21 points for Olympiacos. Marque Perry added 16 points, but only 7 free throws after the first quarter, and Robert Gulyas finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The game was a basket-for-basket contest to start. Prokom forced the game inside, where Tomas Masiulis and Adam Wojcik combined for the first 8 points of the hosts, while Olympiacos counted more on its outside shooters. Perry quickly buried 2 three-pointers and when Gorenc added his own, the guests led 8-13 in minute 5. Both stayed hot for Olympiacos in the quarter, going a combined 6-for-6 from beyond the arc. When Gulyas added some help inside and points followed ofensive rebounds, the guests pushed their advantage into double digits. Only Jagodnik was efficient for Prokom, but when Gorenc finished the quarter with another triple, the Olympiacos lead was fixed at 15-27.
The visitors controlled the game mainly thanks to its advantage in rebounds until Istvan Nemeth and Mariusz Bacik came in with some help from Prokom's bench. They combined for the first 10 points of the hosts in the second quarter, but in the 16th minute it was still 27-36. Just a minute-and-a-half later, however, it was tied 36-36 following Prokom's 3 consecutive bombs from downtown. 2 by Jagodnik and Nemeth's third. Olympiacos looked in trouble, but Perry made 2 free throws and Gulyas another layup from an offensive rebounds to keep the guests ahead 38-41 at the break.
At the beginning of the third period, Prokom tried to tie as soon as possible from beyond the arc, but missed on 4 consecutive attempts. Despite a quick 4 points from Gorenc, however, Olympiacos could not escape because Miller had come off the Prokom bench to steady his team's offense. He and Andrija Ciric would prove how deep Prokom's lineup goes by combining for 18 points in the period. A Ciric layup tied it again 45-45 before the hosts used a 12-4 run to take the biggest advantage so far 57-49. Olympiacos had its leader Perry on the bench with foul troubles and could count only on Gorenc and Gulyas but still trailed 63-54 after 30 minutes.
Olympiacos pushed all his guns to the floor for the final quarter, but Perry couldn't get his early rhythm back. When Gorenc hit his team's first three-pointer since the opening quarter, Olympiacos was within 65-60 in the 33rd minute and everything was possible. But Prokom, which had found trouble scoring against the visitors' zone defense, now responded with 5 points in a row to control the game again. Both teams were very nervous now, but Prokom prevented Olympiacos from coming closer than 7 points for several minutes. Finally, however, with a minute remaining, a three-pointer by Roger Mason, his only basket of the evening, made it 73-69. But then Jagodnik made both free throws and Olympiacos lost the ball on the next possesion and it was over, with Prokom a step closer to the Top 16.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005