Zenit rolls to victory in Athens
Zenit St Petersburg continued its dominance on the road this season by beating Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 77-89 on Thursday at OAKA. Arturas Gudaitis scored a career-high 25 points as Zenit improved its record to 11-5, including 8-1 outside of Russia. Kevin Pangos added 18 points and 10 assists for his second double-double of the season, Will Thomas posted 10 points and 7 rebounds and Austin Hollins also scored 10 for the victors. Ioannis Papapetrou paced the Greens with 14 points and Dinos Mitoglou added 13 points and 7 rebounds. Panathinaikos, playing its first game under interim head coach Kostas Charalampidis, lost its third game in a row to fall to 5-12.
Gudaitis started strong for the visitors with a block on one end and a dunk on the other. Georgios Papagiannis played a key role in the Greens' attack, but Zenit looked to pull away as Pangos scored twice and a Gudaitis hook shot made it 7-13 midway through the opening quarter. A three-pointer by Thomas and a steal and slam from Hollins extended the margin, which reached double figures on Anton Pushkov's free throws, 9-20. Free throws by Nemanja Nedovic helped Panathinaikos settle down and end the quarter at 16-26. Billy Baron capped a 0-7 Zenit start to the second quarter with a triple that prompted a Panathinaikos timeout. Ben Bentil scored twice to revive the hosts and Nedovic followed with a triple. A Bentil slam made it 27-35 midway through the quarter. Pangos and Papapetrou traded threes before Shelvin Mack trimmed the deficit to 7. Gudaitis scored on consecutive possessions and added another slam in the final minute that lifted Zenit to a 35-47 halftime lead.
Thomas opened the second half with his second three of the night and Pangos soon added a three-point play. Papagiannis stepped up with a block and a jumper to keep Panathinaikos in the hunt, but a basket-plus-foul by Gudaitis and free throws by Thomas stretched the margin to 20. Another three-point play by the Zenit center gave him 1,000 career points, a career-high 21 for the game and a 41-62 lead. Free throws by Thomas and Hollins made it a 25-point game. Leonidas Kaselakis provided a spark for the Greens with 8 points to narrow the gap to 54-76 through three quarters. Panathinaikos held Zenit to just 2 points in the first 4 minutes of the fourth quarter while Eleftherios Bochoridis and Nedovic got the hosts within 63-78. A triple by Mitoglou made it 68-80. Gudaitis gave Zenit some breathing room with a three-point play, but a second Mitoglou three got Panathinaikos within 75-84 with 2 minutes remaining. However, the hosts could add only 2 more free throws after that and Zenit held on for the victory.
Kevin Pangos ran the Zenit attack brilliantly to amass 18 points and 10 assists. The point guard made all 7 of his two-point shots, collected 3 rebounds and only had 2 turnovers for a performance index rating of 25.
Gudaitis's special night
On the same basket in the third quarter, Zenit center Arturas Gudaitis made personal history as he reached 1,000 career EuroLeague points and matched his career-high with 20 points. Gudaitis, who is in his seventh EuroLeague campaign with his third different club, finished the game with 25 points.
The biggest difference between the teams was in their two-point shooting. Zenit made 23 of 33 twos (69.7%) while holding the home side to 20 of 42 (47.6%). Zenit was also excellent on its free throws, making 22 of 25 (88%).
Both teams play next in Round 19 on Wednesday, January 13. Zenit heads to Germany to take on FC Bayern Munich, while Panathinaikos remains home for a date with LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne.
Thursday, January 7, 2021