De Colo fires Fener to ninth straight win
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul used a big fourth quarter to make it nine wins in a row by overcoming visiting Zenit St Petersburg 92-84 on Friday night. An extremely closely contested first half saw Fenerbahce hold a narrow interval lead, 47-43. The home team briefly moved further ahead after the break but Zenit bounced back to make it 66-65 with ten minutes remaining. Zenit briefly moved ahead early in the fourth, but a 13-0 run sent Fener in front for good. Nando De Colo led the home side with 24 points and 7 assists, while Marko Guduric added 19 points and Jan Vesely scored 16. Will Thomas led Zenit with 21 points, with KC Rivers (14), Billy Baron (13), Arturas Gudaitis (11) and Kevin Pangos (10) also scoring in double figures. Fenerbahce is now back in the playoffs places at 14-10, while Zenit drops to 13-9 after three straight losses.
Rivers and Guduric got the scoreboard moving from long-range, before Andrey Zubkov and Vesely scored inside. Thomas and Rivers again were also on target for long range for Zenit, but De Colo answered likewise and Vesely’s free throws gave Fener its first lead, 12-11. Rivers and De Colo stayed hot, before Thomas and Lorenzo Brown traded triples. Pangos and De Colo both dived through to score in penetration, and Thomas made his third three-pointer to tie it, 23-23. Thomas then made a tough turnaround jumper as the first quarter finished 25-25. Baron’s triple opened the second quarter but Jarell Eddie’s threeball forced another tie. Mateusz Ponitka hit a fadeaway before Guduric made a pair of triples to send Fenerbahce back in front, 36-34. De Colo free throws gave Fener the biggest lead of the game, 40-35, but Gudaitis scored three times under the basket to boost Zenit. Guduric added another three-pointer and De Colo netted twice in penetration, making it 47-43 at the break.
A three-pointer from Rivers opened the third quarter, but De Colo and Danilo Barthel kept Fenerbahce ahead. Pangos also struck from deep but Vesely bettered that with a big slam and a pair of mid-range strikes, making it 58-55 despite two scores from Thomas. Edgaras Ulanovas netted twice inside to make it 64-56, but a mid-range floater and a three-pointer from Baron helped bring back Zenit to 66-65 at the end of the third. Baron hit another triple at the start of the fourth, but Guduric made sure Fener was soon back in front with his own long-range strike. Vladimir Trushkin and Zubkov scored inside, and Trushkin added a mid-range score as Zenit surged to 69-74. Melih Mahmutoglu rescued Fener with a corner three, and De Colo’s layup-and-one restored the host’s lead, 75-74 with 6 minutes left. De Colo and Vesely then combined for an alley-oop before De Colo struck a triple, and Vesely added free throws to make it 82-74 after a 13-0 run. Dyshawn Pierre scored 4 points to make it a double-digit game, and Guduric added a driving score. Zenit battled back through free throws to make it 88-84 inside the final minute, but Mahmutoglu and Guduric scored in transition to seal the deal.
Fast start from deep
Both teams started hot from long range, making a combined 8 of their first 9 three-point attempts, including two for KC Rivers and three for Will Thomas. That pace could not be continued, but Fener finished with an excellent 10-of-18 from long-range (55.6%) including 5-of-7 for Marko Guduric, while Zenit could only manage 11-of-30 (36.7%).
Close contest before the break
The first half was incredibly closely fought, with the opening 17 minutes seeing the teams separated by more than 3 points only once – for a 25-second spell midway through the first quarter when Zenit briefly led 7-11.
Using the ball well
Both teams moved the ball well and took care of it: Fenerbahce had 22 assists with 10 turnovers, while Zenit had 18 assists and only 6 turnovers.
Milestones for Zenit stars
Two Zenit players reached personal milestones: Thomas, whose 21 points were a career high, exceeded 1000 points in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, while Rivers moved past 300 converted three-pointers in the competition.
After the bye week Fenerbahce will be back in action with another home game, taking on ALBA Berlin on Friday 19 February. Zenit has an earlier return, hosting Panathinaikos OPAP Athens on Wednesday 17 February in a rearranged Round 6 meeting.
Friday, February 5, 2021