Zenit shocks Fenerbahce on Albicy's triple
Andrew Albicy hit a three-pointer with 2.6 seconds to go as Zenit St Petersburg rallied on the road to edge Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul 81-84 on Thursday night. This win allowed Zenit to escape from last place in the standings and improve to 4-11 record, while Fenerbahce dropped to 5-10 on the season. Fenerbahce led by 11 points in the first half and held a 67-60 advantage early in the fourth quarter, but the visitors never went away and survived a thrilling ending in which Kostas Sloukas hit a triple to tie the game at 81-81 with 6 seconds to go, only for Albicy to follow it with a game-winner. Mateusz Ponitka led Zenit with 16 points and 8 rebounds. Albicy and Gustavo Ayon had 12 points each, Evgeny Voronov netted 11 points while Tim Abromaitis added 10 points plus 7 rebounds in the win. Joffrey Lauvergne paced Fenerbahce with 18 points, Nikola Kalinic scored 16 and Kostas Sloukas 13 points in a losing effort.
Fenerbahce had a quick start to the game with Ali Muhammed's triple opening a 7-0 lead, but Zenit was quick to establish its offense. Albicy and Ponitka each hit a three-pointer before Colton Iverson had a three-point play that made it 14-15. The hosts regained the lead through Kalinic, and Luigi Datome hit a buzzer-beater to end the first quarter. Nando De Colo's triple made it 27-18 early in the second quarter. Kalinic added a triple and a fastbreak to his tally to make it 34-23, but Zenit was not going away. Ponitka had a basket-plus-foul, and Albicy followed it with a three-pointer before Ayon had a layup and a pair of nifty assists in the final 90 seconds of the half for the visitors to cut the gap to 43-38 at halftime. Sloukas and Voronov traded triples before Melih Mahmutoglu and Albicy each made threes to make it 52-47. Zenit did not allow anything inside, while on the other end Austin Hollins tied it at 52-52. Derrick Williams hit a triple and Lauvergne scored inside for the hosts, but Ponitka matched each of those baskets before Hollins had a put-back-plus-foul to put Zenit up 59-60 at the end of the third quarter. Kalinic knocked down a three-pointer to open the fourth, before dishing it to Lauvergne for a runner in traffic, only for Datome to cap an 8-0 run with a corner triple. But Ponitka helped Zenit stay close and Abromaitis nailed a three-pointer to cut within 70-67. The visitors' charge continued with a three-pointer from Dmitry Khvostov and a pair of layups from Ayon to put Zenit in front 72-74 with 4 minutes to go. A baseline jumper from Abromaitis made it 74-78 as Fenerbahce was held without a field goal for more than 6 minutes before Datome nailed a triple and Williams split free throws to make it 78-78 with 53 seconds to go. Ayon scored a layup to put Zenit back ahead and the visitors had a 3-point lead, but Sloukas hit a tough triple to tie it at 81-81 with 6 seconds to go. However, after a timeout, Albicy nailed a corner triple with 2.6 seconds to win it for the visitors.
Battle on the boards
Fenerbahce had 7 offensive boards in the first half and control of the paint, but Zenit allowed just 3 offensive boards in the second half as one of the keys to its win. Fenerbahce did end up with 4 more rebounds for the game (32-28) but the won the rebounding battle in the second half 14-16.
Zenit had 24 assists for the night, which is its second-most this season, but they did not come from the usual sources. It was forward Mateusz Ponitka who doubled his previous career-high by dishing 8 assists and Gustavo Ayon with 5 assists in this game.
Zenit has four wins on the season, including three on the road. This is the team's first road win that has come in regulation time, but Zenit still left it very late to decide it.
Gustavo Ayon scored 8 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, which allowed him to surpass the milestone of 1,500 points for his EuroLeague career. Ayon now has 1,507 points through 155 appearances.
Next week in Round 16, both teams will be at home on Friday to close out the calendar year. Zenit will welcome Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, while Fenerbahce hosts Valencia Basket.
Thursday, December 19, 2019