Zenit rolls past Olympiacos for third straight win
Zenit St Petersburg edged out Olympiacos Piraeus 84-78 in Russia on Friday night to leave both teams with a 6-3 record. Zenit, which has now won three straight games, scored the opening basket and never trailed in the first three quarters, but was not able to establish a big enough lead to feel comfortable. Olympiacos briefly went ahead early in the final period but Zenit struck back with an 8-0 run and stayed ahead the rest of the way. Conner Frankamp led Zenit with 16 points, all in the first half. Billy Baron scored 14 points, while Jordan Loyd and Mindaugas Kuzminskas both had 12. Thomas Walkup top scored for Olympiacos with 17 points, Moustapha Fall and Kostas Sloukas both scored 13 and Tyler Dorsey added 11.
Three-pointers from Frankamp and Loyd allowed Zenit to take charge early on, but Walkup scored 10 points inside the opening five and a half minutes to tie it up, 12-12. Jordan Mickey responded with a three-pointer and Frankamp added 5 straight points for a 20-12 Zenit lead. Sasha Vezenkov and Dorsey responded with threeballs and Walkup added a transition bucket for a 20-20 tie, before Denis Zakharov hit a three to make it 25-22 after ten minutes. Zakharov also scored the first points of the second quarter, but Giannoulis Larentzakis and Sloukas kept Olympiacos moving. Alex Poythress dunked and Kuzminskas scored 4 fast points, but Hassan Martin bettered that with 5 points to keep it close at 35-32. Baron’s three-point play and Frankamp’s three-pointer kept Zenit in front, and Kuzminskas free throws made it 43-34. Fall hit back with a layup-and-one, and after Frankamp made his fourth triple and added a layup, Shaquielle McKissic finished the first half with a high-flying coast-to-coast dunk to make it 49-43.
Defenses were on top early in the third quarter, with just one layup from Walkup in the opening three minutes. Arturas Gudaitis and Mickey scored inside to keep Zenit ahead, 53-49 midway through the third. Baron added a mid-range jumper and Vezenkov responded off the glass, before Mateusz Ponitka and Dorsey traded triples. Free throws brought Olympiacos within 58-57 at the end of the third. Fall’s dunk with the final period’s first possession gave the visitors its first lead of the night, but Kuzminskas responded immediately and 5 straight points from Baron made it 65-59. Poythress added a close-range score before Walkup struck from deep to reignite Olympiacos. But the previously quiet Loyd took over with 5 quick points, making it 72-64 with five minutes remaining. Kuzminksas protected the margin and Loyd scored again for a 76-68 lead. Sloukas gave Olympiacos hope with a threeball but Andrey Zubkov converted a crucial putback and Baron hit a floater to seal the deal.
Kuzminskas continues to find form
Mindaugas Kuzminskas reached the milestone of 500 career rebounds in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, and more importantly the veteran Zenit St Petersburg forward played a full role in his team’s victory over Olympiacos Piraeus on Friday. The 32 year-old Lithuanian – who briefly played for Olympiacos in the 2019-20 season – spent 19 minutes on the floor and paired 12 points with 3 offensive rebounds for a team-best PIR of 13. After a quiet start to the season, this was the second consecutive strong game from Kuzminskas, who had 15 points and 5 rebounds in the previous week’s win at Anadolu Efes Istanbul.
Reds go ahead…and go cold
Olympiacos never led during the first three quarters of the game but always stayed in touch and was able to take its first lead of the night, 58-59, when Moustapha Fall dunked with the first play of the fourth quarter. However, the Reds then found the worst possible time to go cold on offense with a run of nearly three minutes without scoring. Zenit took advantage of that opportunity with a 8-0 run to move ahead, highlighted by Billy Baron’s first three-pointer of the night, and stayed in front the rest of the way.
American duo make fast starts
Thomas Walkup made a spectacular start to the game for Olympiacos in Friday’s trip to Zenit St Petersburg. The American guard scored 10 of his team’s first 12 points and finished the first quarter with 12 points, making 5-of-8 field goal attempts plus two rebounds and one assist. Walkup ended up leading all scorers with 17 points. On the other side, Conner Frankamp had a similarly strong start for Zenit with 8 first quarter points on perfect 3-of-3 shooting, along with two assists and one blocked shot. He kept that up in the second quarter, reaching 16 points by half-time but then didn’t score again.
Friday, November 12, 2021