ALBA rallies to win in St Petersburg
ALBA Berlin rallied from a double-digit second-half deficit on the road to edge Zenit St Petersburg 81-83 on Thursday. The win raised ALBA's record to 9-16 on the season, while Zenit remains with a league-worst 7-18 record despite the debut on the bench of coach Xavi Pascual. Zenit led for the first 35 minutes and by as much as 58-45 midway through the third quarter. But Martin Hermannsson sparked the visitors on a 14-32 run that saw the lead change hands in the fourth quarter, and ALBA never relinquished it. Hermannsson led the visitors with 24 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds. Rokas Giedratisi finished with 14 points, and Luke Sikma was everywhere, contributing with 10 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. For Zenit, Will Thomas scored 19 points and Austin Hollins had 15. Gustavo Ayon combined 12 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, while Tim Abromaitis collected 11 points and 7 rebounds.
Hollins and Abromaitis each had 5 points, including a triple apiece, as Zenit opened an early 12-6 lead. Landry Nnoko gave a quick spark to ALBA's offense, but Zenit's defense allowed only one field goal in the final 5 minutes of the quarter. During that span, Hollins hit another triple and Abromaitis followed with a tip-in, before a last-second three-pointer from Evgeny Voronov made it 25-15 after 10 minutes. Hermannsson got ALBA going early in the second quarter, scoring 8 points on a pair of triples and a long jumper, to get the visitors within 27-25. Vladislav Trushkin snapped the run with a triple, but Giedraitis hit one for the visitors, too. The teams kept trading punches, with Zenit remaining ahead as Thomas and Ayon each scored twice, but ALBA stayed in step, with Giedraitis and Sikma keeping the visitors within 42-38 at halftime. Zenit had the better start to the third quarter, with a pair of baskets from Hollins and a triple from Andrew Albicy extending the lead to 51-40. Tyler Cavanaugh nailed a triple for ALBA, but Zenit kept its offense rolling until Andrey Zubkov's long-range dagger stretched the difference to 58-45. That's when ALBA made its move, however. Hermannsson had a three-point play before Marcus Eriksson and Sikma hit back-to-back shots from the arc to make it 60-56 late in the third. Zenit still held a 64-58 edge going into the fourth quarter, which started with Jonas Mattisseck and Thomas trading three-pointers. Sikma had a triple before Giedraitis and Cavanaugh converted consecutive three-point plays that gave ALBA its first lead, 68-70 with 5 minutes left. Niels Giffey's triple and a pair of baskets from Hermannsson opened that lead to 72-77. Hollins answered with a triple, but ALBA kept its lead and sealed it with Hermannsson finding Sikma for an easy layup at 77-82 with 16 seconds to go.
Hermannsson steps up
Martin Hermannsson had the best game of his rookie EuroLeague season, running the show and scoring ALBA's individual season high with 24 points on 7-for-11 two-point and 2-for-3 three-point shooting. He also dished 7 assists and grabbed a career-high 4 rebounds.
Youngsters help ALBA
In the absence of the likes of Peyton Siva, Makai Mason and Johannes Thiemann, ALBA's young faces got an opportunity, and used it well. Kresimir Nikic, a 20-year old big man, played a solid 12 minutes with 3 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist, and 18-year old guard Malte Delow did not score but had 1 steal in career-high 7 minutes. Jonas Mattisseck, who just turned 20, played 14 minutes and contributed 5 points, including an important fourth-quarter triple.
This marks a fourth win in last five road games for ALBA. After downing Olympiacos, Crvena Zvezda and Milan, ALBA now also beat Zenit away from home.
Xavi Pascual made his debut on Zenit's bench and returned to the competition after little more than a year, his last game having on the bench of Panathinaikos OPAP Athens in December 2018. Pascual has 206 career wins and was EuroLeague champion in 2010 with FC Barcelona.
Both teams will be at home next week in Round 26. Zenit will host another German side, FC Bayern Munich, on Thursday, and the same night ALBA will welcome league leaders Anadolu Efes Istanbul.
Thursday, February 20, 2020