Zenit St Petersburg comes off a bittersweet season in which the team made history by playing in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague for the first time. Zenit started the season with the experienced Joan Plaza on the sidelines and several accomplished players, including Alex Renfroe, Will Thomas, Gustavo Ayon, Colton Iverson, Mateusz Ponitka and Anton Ponkrashov, among others. The team struggled early due to a series of injuries and paid a high price for its lack of EuroLeague experience. Zenit only won two of its first 13 games and Coach Plaza was fired in February and replaced by Xavi Pascual. When the 2019-20 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Zenit was at the bottom of the EuroLeague standings with an 8-20 record and only the slimmest of chances to reach the playoffs. In the VTB United League, Zenit ranked sixth with an 8-10 record. With a year of EuroLeague experience under its belt, Zenit will be a much more dangerous opponent in 2020-21.
Zenit St. Petersburg first became a well-known name in Europe thanks to its successful football club, which boasts Russian League championships and the 2008 UEFA Cup and has seen greats of the game such as Hulk from Brazil and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk of Ukraine wear its colors. The city of St. Petersburg has also experienced basketball greatness too; Spartak, previously known as Kondrashin Belov, won the Saporta Cup twice in the 1970s and later launched the career of Andrei Kirilenko. Dynamo captured the 2004-05 FIBA Europe League with a perfect record under the tutelage of Coach David Blatt. In 2014, Zenit stepped into the ring determined to bring great basketball back to the city. After acquiring its Russian League allocation from Triumph Lyubertsy, Zenit St. Petersburg was founded and able to immediately compete at the highest levels both domestically and internationally. Zenit proved up to the challenge as, behind Walter Hodge and Dmitry Kulagin, it qualified for the 2015 EuroCup Eighthfinals before losing to eventual champion Khimki Moscow Region. A year later, along with success in the EuroCup, Zenit had a great domestic run in the VTB United League. With Ryan Toolson and Janis Timma among its stars, Zenit finished the regular season in third place and swept Avtodor Saratov in the quarterfinals to make the semifinals for the first time. Zenit came within one win of the finals, but lost its series against UNICS Kazan in the maximum five games. Even though Zenit had a 2-0 lead in the 2016-17 VTB semifinals, it ended up losing to Khimki. The team also reached the EuroCup playoffs, where it fell to Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar in the quarterfinals. Zenit had a similar 2017-18 season in which is reached the EuroCup playoffs and the VTB semifinals, but lost to Reggio Emilia and CSKA Moscow, respectively. Kyle Kuric was the EuroCup Top 16 MVP, however, he couldn't get Zenit past the quarterfinals. In the 2018-19 season, Zenit fell in the EuroCup Top 16 in a tough group that featured two of the eventual semifinalists, UNICS Kazan and Morabanc Andorra. but improved after Plaza became its new head coach and ousted Lokomotiv in the VTB quarterfinals before losing to CSKA in the semis. Last season, Zenit had a slow start and Coach Plaza was replaced by Xavi Pascual. With star players like Gustavo Ayon and Mateusz Ponitka, Zenit had an 8-20 record in the EuroLeague and an 8-10 balance in the VTB League before both competitions were canceled. Zenit has a combination of financial muscle, growing EuroLeague experience, a strong fan base and an extraordinary city, components which together give the club an excellent chance to do well in the 2020-21 season.