Zenit St. Petersburg will play its first game under new head coach Xavi Pascual when it welcomes ALBA Berlin and its offense into town. Zenit parted ways with Coach Joan Plaza during the off week and goes into the final stretch of its premier EuroLeague season in a share of EuroLeague's worst record and an offense that posts the fourth-fewest points (74.8 ppg.). ALBA has one win more, but has an offense that ranks third with 85.2 points and leads the EuroLeague with 19.8 assists per game.
Earlier this season
When these two sides met in their season opener, ALBA celebrated its first EuroLeague game in five years in with a dominant performance in an 85-65 win over Zenit, which was playing its first EuroLeague game ever. Landry Nnoko led ALBA with 16 points and 5 rebounds and Marcus Eriksson scored 15 points. Will Thomas paced Zenit with 14 points and 8 rebounds.
Rookie point guards, Zenit's Andrew Albicy and ALBA's Peyton Siva, go against each other in a matchup of players who shined on 7DAYS EuroCup floors last season. Albicy has taken the reigns of Zenit's offense lately, averaging 5.2 assists over the last six games and over the last three he has played 28:30 minutes, the most on the team and among the most in the league. Siva has overcome early injury problems and is posting 9.3 points and 5.2 assists, ranking ninth in the latter category for the season. Both players also set the tone defensively and could be facing each other most of the night.
Keys to victory: Zenit
Zenit has plenty of veteran leadership, from the presence of Gustavo Ayon and Will Thomas in its frontcourt to Alex Renfroe, Evgeny Voronov and Anton Ponkrashov on the perimeter. In a situation such as this one, with a new coach on the bench, Zenit will need to rely on its experienced veterans to lead the way – prior and during the game – to overcome adversity.
Keys to victory: ALBA
ALBA will need to attempt to control this game with its offense against an opponent that has mostly struggled in that segment this season. ALBA has been held below 80 points just eight times this season, while Zenit has scored that many just eight times this season. So, ALBA's recipe is to get the hosts in its rhythm, setting the pace and using ball movement to tally baskets and forcing Zenit to try to match it.