Fenerbahce turns back host Zenit, 68-73
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul fought off a valiant effort by injury-plagued Zenit to win 68-73 in its first-ever visit to St Petersburg, Russia on Wednesday. Fenerbahce's fourth straight road win saw its record rise to 11-12, good for a tie for the last playoff spot with AX Armani Exchange Milan. Zenit fell to 7-16 and continues to share last place. Fenerbahce amassed a 20-37 second-quarter lead only to see Zenit rally to within 4 points on several occasions before the visitors made sure at the end. Leo Westermann led Fenerbahce with 13 points, 11 of which came in the game's last 13 minutes. Kostas Sloukas had 12 points, Jan Vesely and Luigi Datome 11 each for the winners. Gustavo Ayon and Austin Hollins scored 16 each for Zenit, while Will Thomas had 13 and Tim Abromaitis 10.
Will Thomas had 6 points and Vesely 7 in an early 9-9 tie capped by Vladislav Trushkin's triple for Zenit. Will Thomas broke the tie and Albicy drove to put Zenit up 13-9. Sloukas struck from deep and Vesely put the visitors in front, 13-14. Datome tipped in a miss and Derrick Williams hit from the arc to complete a 0-10 Fenerbahce run before Gustavo Ayon's first basket left a 15-19 scoreboard after 10 minutes. Datome had 5 points in an 11-2 run to open the second quarter with the lead climbing into double digits, 17-30. Nando De Colo hit from deep and fed Vesely for a high lead of 20-37 before Hollins helped Zenit cut the difference to 32-41 at the half. De Colo and Evgeny Voronov traded triples early in the third quarter before Ayon scored 7 quick points to suddenly make it 44-48. Almost 2 scoreless minutes ended with Westermann hitting a three and Malcolm Thomas scoring in close to make it 45-53. Will Thomas converted a three-point play and Abromaitis hit free throws for a 50-54 score after 30 minutes. Westermann hit from deep twice and finished a fastbreak to open the fourth quarter by restoring Fenerbahce's double-digit lead, 52-62. Abromaitis and Hollins answered from the arc, and soon Hollins got 3 points the hard way at 61-65, but Williams buried his second triple in a row in response. Ayon's free throws made it 64-68 with 3 minutes left after he fouled out both Jan Vesely and Malcolm Thomas. Sloukas made 3 of 4 free throws in the last 2 minutes to keep Zenit at bay and take the win back to Istanbul.
Leo Westermann again stepped up when Fenerbahce needed him most, with Zenit on the comeback. He scored 11 of his game-high 13 points, including his in the last 13 minutes and matched Sloukas with a team-high 4 assists.
Fenerbahce's defense forced Zenit into 6-for-29 three-point shooting, or 20.7%, while its offense drilled 10 of 23 from deep, or 43.5%, led by 3 each from Westermann and Derrick Williams. It made a huge difference, especially when Zenit shot more than double the free throws of the visitors, though was not so good from the line, either, making just 12 of 20.
Movin' on up
Jan Vesely's 5 two-pointer in the game jumped him to eighth place all-time, passing Vassilis Spanoulis (847) and tying Nikola Vujcic with 850.
Did you notice?
Fenerbahce saw both Jan Vesely and Malcom Thomas foul out on back-to-back fouls drawn by Gustavo Ayon with 3 minutes left. That left Fenerbahce with no centers, as Ahmet Duverioglu didn't make the trip and Joffrey Lauvergne was missing for personal reasons. Zenit did not take advantage, however, as Fenerbahce's small lineup rode out the victory.
Both teams are back to action in 48 hours. Fenerbahce tries to make it four straight wins when it hosts Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv on Friday, while Zenit hits the road to meet Panathinaikos the same night.
Wednesday, February 5, 2020