Zenit records historic OT win in Piraeus
Zenit St Petersburg rallied from a slow start to register its first win ever in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, 68-77 in overtime against host Olympiacos Piraeus on Friday. Both teams now have 2-1 records. Olympiacos raced to a 12-0 start, but by the end of the first quarter, Zenit was ahead and held leads throughout the second half. Olympiacos, down 58-64 with 48 seconds left in the fourth quarter, used triples by Kevin Punter and Kostas Papanikolaou to force overtime. Zenit didn’t panic, and a 1-6 run right after the break was good enough to prevent Olympiacos from coming back again. Mateusz Ponitka led the way for Zenit with 18 points and 5 rebounds, and a key role in overtime. Alex Renfroe and Gustavo Ayon added 10 points each for the winners. Kevin Punter scored 16 for the Reds, and Nikola Milutinov recorded a monster double-double of 16 points and 16 rebounds in a losing effort.
Milutinov , Vassilis Spanoulis and Georgios Printezis rocketed Olympiacos to a 10-0 start, to which Brandon Paul tacked on a fastbreak dunk. Tim Abromaitis got Zenit back to within 12-6 with 4 points. Even after Olympiacos rebuilt the margin to 17-8, the visitors kept going until back-to-back triples by Will Thomas and Austin Hollins made it 17-14. A sweet 10-meter, buzzer-beater by Vladimir Thruskin gave Zenit its first lead to end the first quarter 19-20. Zenit's three-point festival continued with Hollins and Alex Renfroe downing one each to make it 21-26 early in the second quarter. Punter rescued Olympiacos with 6 quick points to which Spanoulis added 4 free throws and an assist to Milutinov for a 10-0 run to a new 31-26 advantage for the hosts. By the time Paul hit the home team's first triple after 11 misses, however, Zenit had climbed back, with Andrew Albicy forging a tie before Abromaitis stole and finished a fastbreak that put the visitors ahead 36-38 at halftime. Zenit went inside to Ayon and Thomas after the break to increase the margin to 38-44. The Reds looked stunned, especially when they turned the ball over right after a timeout and gave up 4 points in a row to Ponitka for a double-digit Zenit edge, 38-48, after 25 minutes. Punter and Milutinov didn't panic, though, combining for a 6-0 run that gave some breath to the home team. Renfroe hit from downtown and Colton Iverson scored a contested layup to keep a safe margin for Zenit, 47-53, after 30 minutes. Punter opened the fourth for Olympiacos with a long-waited triple, but otherwise both teams struggled to score. Finally, Renfroe and Iverson pushed Zenit ahead 50-57 after 34 minutes. Antonios Korianis nailed back-to-back threes to bring Olympiacos within 56-59, while Punter joined him from the free throw line to reduce the gap even further. Hollins quickly replied with another three, Ponitka added another basket for a 58-64 Zenit lead to going into the final minute. Punter nailed one triple for the hosts before Papanikolaou sent the game to overtime from long range. Even though Papanikolaou scored the first point in overtime, the joy didn't last long for Olympiacos. Thomas scored twice from the line, Ponitka beat the shot clock and Ayon joined later to cap a 0-6 run for a 65-70 edge. Ponitka, with a three-point play and a monster block on the following defense, showed up big in clutch time to seal the outcome, 68-77, for the Russians.
First win ever
Zenit registered its first-ever Euroleague win in a magic night. The visitors' head coach, Joan Plaza, got his second victory in nine tries there.
Cursed and blessed
Olympiacos had a terrible shooting night, missing its first 11 three-point attempts and hitting just 6 of 30 by game's end. But the Reds managed to send the game to overtime with triples by Punter and Papanikolaou in the last 48 seconds of the fourth quarter.
They needed 5 more minutes
Zenit had been unable to score more than 65 points in its previous two games, which they lost. The Russians couldn’t reach that mark tonight at the end of the regulation, either, but they excelled in overtime, posting 13 points in 5 minutes to surpass their limit and grab the win.
Mateusz Ponitka had scored just 9 points in two games in his first EuroLeague action since 2016. He doubled that mark tonight, posting 18 points – including 5 in the extra period – and registered a monster block on Kevin Punter that decided the game.
In Round 4, Zenit will face another Greek team, but this time at home, as hosts of Panathinaikos OPAP Athens on Thursday. Olympiacos will travel to Spain to visit KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz on Friday.
Friday, October 18, 2019