Zenit stays road perfect with solid win at Baskonia
Zenit St Petersburg claimed an impressive road win by downing TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz 70-77 in a rescheduled Round 3 game on Monday night. After a low-scoring start Zenit enjoyed an excellent second quarter to move ahead by 9, but Baskonia battled back and the third quarter saw numerous lead changes. Zenit took control by launching a 2-15 run to bridge the third and fourth quarters, stretching the lead to 17 points midway through the fourth and cruising after that. Mateusz Ponitka led the scoring with 18 points along with 8 rebounds. Zenit had a strong inside presence through Arturas Gudaitis (13 points and 7 rebounds) and Alex Poythress (14 points), while Kevin Pangos orchestrated the offense with 9 points and 10 assists. Rokas Giedraitis paced Baskonia with 15 points and Luca Vildoza added 11. Zenit improves to 5-2, and Baskonia is now 4-5.
Defenses dominated early before Gudaitis opened the scoring from the foul line. Giedraitis downed an alley-oop layup for the game’s first field goal, and Tonye Jekiri added a layup for Baskonia’s first lead. Alex Peters downed a lucky triple for a 7-2 lead before Gudaitis and Youssoupha Fall traded inside scores. Will Thomas netted a putback for Zenit but Fall’s big dunk helped make it 13-10 at the end of the first. Pierria Henry and Fall extended the lead, but two dunks from Poythress pulled Zenit back, and Ponitka struck a three-pointer for a 17-18 lead after a 0-8 run. Zoran Dragic rescued Baskonia with a pair of scores under the basket, but Pangos heated up with a couple of triples and Poythress scored again to keep Zenit ahead, 21-26. Ponitka drove to cap a 0-7 run which was ended by Giedraitis from deep. Pangos and Vitaly Fridzon scored in penetration to stretch the lead, but Dragic’s triple made it 28-34 at the break. Gietraitis with a triple and Jekiri with a three-point play tied it up at the start of the second half, and Giedraitis stayed hot with two more strikes to give his team the lead. The outstanding Poythress netted a trio of inside scores to keep Zenit close, 42-40, and KC Rivers struck from long-range to send the visitors back ahead. The scoring was evenly shared for the next few minutes, and it was 49-50 after Achillie Polonara’s threeball was answered by Ponitka’s layup and one. Billy Baron and Andrey Zubkov added triples for a 0-9 run, but Henry went coast to coast to beat the buzzer and make it 51-56 at the end of the third. Zubkov opened the final period with another triple, and a three-point play from Gudaitis gave Zenit a double-digit lead, 51-62, before Ponitka’s basket in penetration stretched the advantage. Zubkov’s long two and Gudaitis free throws made it 53-70 with 6 minutes left, before Vildoza and Peters gave Baskonia hope with 5 fast points, but Zenit steadily added to its scoring through free throws and used its strong defense to do the rest despite a late Baskonia flurry.
Both offenses struggled early on, with Baskonia missing its first 7 field goal attempts and not scoring in the first 4:30. Zenit also missed its first 5 shots from the field and the only scoring in the opening 4 minutes were free throws from Arturas Gudaitis.
Early turnover problems averted
Zenit was careless in possession in the opening stages, committing 5 turnovers in the first quarter. But Xavi Pascual’s team got much better after that and ended the game with just 13 turnovers.
Still perfect on the road
Zenit is now a perfect 4-0 on its travels, with this victory following triumphs at Anadolu Efes Istanbul, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne and ALBA Berlin. No other team in the competition is unbeaten on the road.
Baskonia travels to face Olympiacos Piraeus in Round 11 on Thursday, and Zenit stays on the road to visit Zalgiris Kaunas the same night.
Monday, November 23, 2020