Olympiacos became the second Group A team to advance to the Top 16 in when it defeated difficult Prokom Trefl 64-73 on the road in Sopot, Poland on Thursday. Olympiacos improved to 8-2 and is second in the Group A standings right behind another Top 16 qualifier, Tau Ceramica, first at 9-1. Prokom dropped to 4-6 but keeps all-important fifth place, the last guaranteed Top 16 spot in any group. Scoonie Penn, Alex Acker and Andrija Zizic led the winners each with 13 points, while Ryan Stack posted a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds and Henry Domercant scored all of 11 points in the fourth quarter. Michael Andersen was the only Prokom player in double digits with 19 points. Penn and Stack each had 6 points in a 1-18 opening run which gave the Reds full control of the game. Prokom did not surrender, however, as Andersen and Jasmin Hukic managed to get Prokom within 32-38 early in the third quarter. Zizic and Penn rescued Olympiacos, which used outstanding defense and several quick baskets early in the fourth quarter to seal the win long before the final buzzer.
Olympiacos succeeded with a very aggressive defense to start the game, holding Prokom scoreless on its own floor for the first 3 minutes. Meanwhile, an easy layup by Andrija Zizic sparked a 0-6 opening run that Penn capped with a running jumper. A free throw by Huseyin Besok put Prokom on the scoreboard at last, but it was misleading. The hosts still could not find the basket, while a fallaway jumper by Penn sparked a 0-10 Olympiacos run run in which Stack had 6 points, including back-to-back jumpers for a mammoth 1-16 lead. Prokom made only free throws until its first basket after 11 missed attempts came as Hamilton buried a shot from downtown. Soon, Hamilton and Rashid Atkins brought Prokom within 9-18. Foul shots by Acker and Penn, as well as another triple by Hamilton, fixed the score at 13-22 after 10 minutes.
Jasmin Hukic and Michael Andersen kept feeding the Prokom comeback with free throws for a 16-22 scoreboard early in the second quarter. Acker revived the Reds with a second-chance basket while Zizic slammed a fastbreak dunk to force another Prokom timeout at 16-26. Adam Wojcik downed a tough jump-hook for the hosts, but Acker bested him with a high-flying three-point play. Andersen scored twice around the basket to get Prokom within 22-29, but Penn canned a four-meter jumper to start another Olympiacos run. Zisis stepped up with a put-back basket and Manolis Papamakarios buried a corner triple to finish off a 0-7 spurt that was good for a 14-point lead, 22-36. Donatas Slanina found his first basket in transition for Prokom but Zizic answered the same way. Hukic hit a corner three-pointer and Filip Dylewicz added a free throw to get Prokom closer, but the visitors still held a double-digit advantage, 28-38, at halftime.
Prokom improved its defense after the break, making the Reds go scoreless for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, Andersen fired in a baseline jumper and added a put-back layup to get the hosts within 32-38. Olympiacos did not panic, however, as Zizic and Stack hit free throws to restore a double-digit advantage, 32-42. The guests did not allow easy points now, while Zizic capped a 0-6 Olympiacos run with a fastbreak layup. Stack matched a layup by Atkins, and while Proom also got free throws from Besok and a power dunk by Dylewicz, Penn and Stack kept the Reds ahead, 38-50, after 27 minutes. Prokom opted to attack the rim once the Reds entered the foul bonus. Atkins hit free throws and Hukic added a big triple, but Vasilopoulos answered from downtown for a 43-54 Olympiacos lead. Dylewicz rolled off a high post pick to score and get Prokom within 45-54 after three quarters.
Penn returned to help the Reds to control the game rhythm at the start of the fourth quarter. Olympiacos kept controlling the boards, too, while Acker hit free throws and Domercant added a long two-pointer to make it a 13-point game, 45-58. Besok answered with a quick layup but Sofoklis Schortsianitis did better with a three-point play. A subsequent layup by Domercant made Prokom call timeout at 48-63, with 6 minutes to go. Andersen woke the hosts up with a layup-plus-free throw, the first of 5 points in a row for Prokom. The hosts' hopes faded, however, Acker made free throws and fed Domercant for an easy basket. Prokom would have to keep fighting to make the next round, while Olympiacos could look ahead to bigger goals now.
Thursday, January 4, 2007