Bayern fights back to overcome Zenit
FC Bayern Munich moved into fourth place by holding off Zenit St Petersburg, 82-80, in a hard-fought battle on Wednesday night. Zenit dominated the first half, leading by as much as 27-37, but Bayern fought back after the break to take its first lead midway through the third quarter. The game was tied, 56-56, after three quarters, and Bayern edged a very competitive fourth quarter to take a big win. Wade Baldwin IV led Bayern with 17 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Jalen Reynolds and Vladimir Lucic, the latter returning from injury, both scored 15 points, and DJ Seeley added 14. Arturas Gudaitis was dominant inside for Zenit, pairing 22 points with 6 rebounds. Kevin Pangos led the offense with 17 points and 5 assists. Mateusz Ponitka scored 14 and Andrey Zubkov added 11 in defeat. The victory lifted Bayern to 12-7, while Zenit dropped to 11-6.
Gudaitis landed the first blow with a put-back and Pangos added a long two. James Gist got Bayern moving, but Ponitka and Gudaitis scored inside for a 2-8 lead. Baldwin scored 5 consecutive points before Pangos scored from long-range and Gudaitis inside to keep Zenit ahead. KC Rivers added a triple to make it 9-16. Reynolds hit back with a dunk a mid-range jumper. Billy Baron struck from deep to finish the first quarter at 13-19. Baldwin opened the second quarter by scoring from long-range, but Zubkov scored a transition layup and Baron again converted from deep, making it 16-24. Reynolds and Gudaitis traded inside blows, before Paul Zipser’s jumper and Baldwin’s three-pointer brought Bayern closer. Ponitka and Zubkov protected Zenit’s lead. Zipser’s corner three pulled it back to 27-30. Pangos and Gudaitis bookended a 0-7 run to give Zenit a double-digit lead. Leon Radosevic, with a put-back, and Seeley, from beyond the arc, revived Bayern, but Ponitka’s three made it 32-40 at the break.
Seeley started the second half with a three-pointer, but Gudaitis threw down two dunks to keep Zenit in front despite Seeley’s long two. Another Seeley triple made it 44-45 and Reynolds dunked to give Bayern its first lead. Reynolds stayed hot to score inside for a 51-46 edge before Pangos weaved to the basket for Zenit’s first field goal in 5 minutes. Ponitka sent Zenit back in front from deep. After Nick Weiler-Babb responded likewise, Ponitka scored again and it was 56-56 after three quarters. Lucic and Ponitka traded blows early in the fourth before Reynolds dunked and Lucic came up with a triple and a slam for a 65-58 edge. Baron ended the 7-0 run with a deep two, but a three-point play from Gist kept Bayern safe. Zubkov sank a three-pointer and Pangos improvised a layup to make it 68-66, but Reynolds hit from mid-range. Hollins made a four-point play to tie the game at 70-70 with 4 minutes left. Zubkov forced his way to the basket to send Zenit in front, but Lucic made it 78-75 with 4 free throws heading into the last minute. Baldwin scored a tough jumper and Bayern’s defense held firm to take the win.
Pangos protects head-to-head advantage
Despite losing the game, Zenit had the consolation of holding on to the potential head-to-head tiebreaker between the teams. After winning by 4 points (79-75) when the teams met in Russia last month, the key moment on this occasion was a three-pointer from Kevin Pangos in the final seconds, ensuring his team only lost by 2.
Bayern finds rhythm after the break
Bayern struggled offensively in the opening minutes, making just 1 of its first 4 field goal attempts while committing 3 turnovers. But after being held to 32 points in the first half, Bayern gradually found its rhythm and scored 50 in the second half, helped by a solid 9-of-21 shooting (42.9%) from three-point range.
Tough defense provides the foundations
Conversely, Bayern really toughened up its defense immediately after the break, allowing Zenit only two field goals – both scored by Arturas Gudaitis – in the opening 7:30 of the third quarter. That allowed the home team to take its first lead of the night, laying the foundations for the eventual victory.
Milestone evening for Gist
Recent Bayern signing James Gist enjoyed a landmark occasion as he made his 250th appearance in the competition. Gist has played 14 games for Partizan Belgrade, 16 with Fenerbahce, 10 with Unicaja, 181 with Panathinaikos, 25 with Crvena Zvezda and now 4 with Bayern. He ranks joint 19th on the all-time appearance list alongside former Panathinaikos teammate Antonis Fotsis.
Both teams will be at home for Round 20 on Friday, January 15. Zenit will host Zalgiris Kaunas, while Bayern takes on Real Madrid.
Wednesday, January 13, 2021