Valencia rallies past Zenit in a thriller
Valencia Basket rallied from double-digit deficits to defeat Zenit St Petersburg 94-90 at home in La Fonteta on Tuesday. Valencia improved to 3-6 in the standings while Zenit dropped to 2-7. Alberto Abalde led the winners with 18 points. Jordan Loyd added 17, Mike Tobey 12 and Guillem Vives 11. Alex Renfroe and Will Thomas led Zenit with 17 points apiece. Gustavo Ayon added 13 while Tim Abromaitis had 11 for the guests. Thomas helped Zenit overcome a slow start and Vladislav Trushkin struck from downtown for a 15-16 score after 10 minutes. Zenit found a go-to guy in Abromaitis, who got help from Dmitry Khvostov and Thomas to boost the guests' lead to 33-38 at halftime. A three-pointer by Thomas gave Zenit its biggest lead, 46-57, but Vives and Loyd brought Valencia to within 57-63 after 30 minutes. Back-to-back triples by Abalde completed the hosts' comeback, 74-71, turning the game into a thriller. Renfroe gave Zenit its last lead, 83-84, but Abalde and Loyd allowed Valencia to go up 89-86 and free throws by Loyd and Bojan Dubljevic sealed the outcome.
Valencia got off to a 5-3 start before Thomas made a put-back and Colton Iverson a turnaround jumper for Zenit's first lead, 7-9. Loyd and Tobey hit triples for Valencia in an 8-0 run that flipped the script to 15-9. Thomas and Trushkin did the same, however, as Zenit's 7-0 run closed the first quarter 15-16. Austin Hollins dunked before Abalde, Trushkin and Loyd traded triples in the second quarter, but soon Louis Labeyrie helped Valencia regain a 23-22 lead. Thomas hit his trademark turnaround jumper and Abromaitis added a corner triple that gave Zenit fresh air at 23-27. Abalde stepped up with a driving layup and a jumper on the way to a 29-29 tie. Abromaitis soon followed a put-back layup with a triple for a 31-34 Zenit lead. A floater by Dimitry Khvostov and a buzzer-beating baseline jumper by Thomas boosted Zenit to a 33-38 halftime advantage. Anton Ponkrashov's triple plus points by Hollins and Andrew Albicy kept Zenit way ahead, 39-47, in the third quarter. Dubljevic scored inside and Fernando San Emeterio from deep as Valencia pulled within 44-49. Albicy went deep before Ayon made it a double-digit difference again, 44-54. Thomas bombed from the arc at 46-57 before triples by Loyd and Vives fueled an 8-0 Valencia run to within 54-57. Ayon and Abromaitis teamed up to lengthen Zenit's edge to 57-63 after 30 minutes. Tobey and Labeyrie each hit a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter to bring Valencia as close as 63-65. Labeyrie scored again to tie, but Renfroe restored a 65-69 Zenit lead. Quino Colom hit one triple and Abalde two to complete Valencia's comeback, 74-71, with more than 4 minutes left. Vives and Thomas joined the three-point shootout, then Colom hit a floater to make it 80-75. Renfroe, Abalde and Hollins kept up the three-point parade for Valencia, but Renfroe insisted from downtown himself to send Zenit back in front, 83-84, in the next-to-last minute. After Abalde answered with a jumper, Renfroe hit free throws and Tobey split his, it was an 86-86 tie with 41 seconds left. Loyd hit the critical three-pointer to break the tie, after which Ayon and Loyd traded foul shots, Albicy missed from downtown and Dubljevic sealed the outcome down the stretch.
Abalde had one of the best games in his EuroLeague career, getting good numbers but offering intangibles like hustle, intensity and a team-oriented effort. He came off the bench to provide 18 points on 3-for.4 two-point and 4-for-6 three-point shooting, adding 3 offensive rebounds and 2 fouls drawn for a PIR of 20.
Renfroe gave Zenit its last lead, 83-84, with 3 minutes left. Abalde buried a baseline jumper and soon Loyd added a very important three-pointer that gave Valencia the lead for good, 89-86, with 31.2 seconds left. An excellent use of tactical fouls and free throw accuracy allowed Valencia to seal the outcome.
Valencia set a new club record for most three-point shots made with 16. Its previous record was 15 twice, both in March 2018, against Brose Bamberg and Real Madrid, respectively. Zenit also set a new club record with 14 three-pointers made, but it was not enough to beat Valencia at La Fonteta.
Did you notice?
Thomas returned to Valencia after three successful seasons with the Spanish powerhouse, which he helped win the Spanish League title in 2017 and the EuroCup trophy in 2019. He was awarded a standing ovation before the game and Thomas did not disappoint anyone, finishing the game with season highs in points (17), assists (4) and PIR (24).
Both teams return to action later this week in Round 10. Valencia hosts Khimki Moscow Region on Thursday in is a rematch of the 2012 7DAYS EuroCup Championship Game. Zenit visits KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz on Friday.
Tuesday, November 19, 2019