Facing the prospect of falling into the bottom half of a Euroleague group for the first time in awhile, Efes Pilsen rallied on the road to beat Prokom Trefl Sopot 67-73 in Group A on Wednesday. Although Efes used its inside strength to build sizable early leads, it couldn't be sure of the victory until the final seconds. Niksa Prkacin came off the bench to lead Efes with 15 points, Ermal Kuqo added 14 and Kaya Peker finished with 11. Goran Jagodnik was the best scorer of the game with 21 points, but his three bombs from a downtown in the final minutes weren'r enough for the hosts. Adam Wojcik added 14 points, Istvan Nemeth and Filip Dylewicz 12 each for Prokom, which suffered 20 turnouvers. Efes improved to 3-1, while Prokom dropped to 2-2 and remains without a victory at home.
Efes led from the start after coming out concentrated and forcing the game inside, where the guests had an advantage in size and numbers. Kuqo scored point after point with ease until his third basket gave Efes a 5-12 lead after 7 minutes. Defense was the key for Efes, however. Prokom couldn't get inside, wasn't able to use fastbreaks and was missing outside shots. Only Wojcik was efficient, scoring over the half of Prokom's points in a first period that ended with Efes in command at 10-19.
Prkacin came on to extend the Efes gap to 10-21 to start the second quarter. Prokom's problems on both sides of the court worsened as inside players Wojcik and Harold Jamison each committed his third foul. Dylewicz was trying to replace them, scoring 7 points in the period, but it wasn't enough. Efes wasn't getting points from outside scorers Willie Solomon and Henry Domercant, but still controlled the game. Prokom tried to come back with a zone defense, and when Nemeth hit the only three-pointer of the first half, the score was 24-30 in the 17th minute. Efes responded quickly, however, with 6 consecutive points inside to finish the half ahead by 28-38. Kuqo scored the final basket of the quarter and had 12 points already.
Efes kept its advantage until the middle of the third quarter, when Prokom suddenly burst out on a10-2 run to cut the gap to 44-46. Nemeth made two attempts from beyond the arc during the run and Wojcik found his rhythm. Efes called a timeout, after which Domercant responded with 4 points in a row, including spectacular dunk. When it seemed that Efes would rebuild its advantage, however, Prokom equalled the score. Wojcik's dunk made it 50-50 after 30 minutes, and the teams started the final quarter as even as they had the first.
To start the fourth quarter, both teams concentrated on defense. Turnovers, offensive fouls and missed shots, even from the foul line, meant only 1 point was scored during 3 minutes. When Ender Arslan hit the three-pointer, Efes was up 53-56, but Prokom was still in the game despite making only 3 of 10 free throws in the quarter. And when Jagodnik made his first bomb from a downtown of the evening, Prokom took its first lead, 68-67, with 4 minutes remaining. But that's when Efes showed its class, scoring 8 consecutive points. Jagodnik gave home fans some hope with the next 2 three-pointers. With Efes still leading 64-67, he could have tied tie the score but missed his next shot. When Arslan made 2 free throws, Nemeth hit another bomb from a downtown for 67-69, but Prokom couldn't get closer. Arslan and Prkacin did not miss from the line to seal 67-73 victory for Efes.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004