Vesely leads Fenerbahce to win in St Petersburg
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul grabbed its second road win of the season by beating Zenit St Petersburg 80-86 at Sibur Arena on Thursday. Fenerbahce won back-to-back games for the first time this season to improve to 5-9 in the standings while Zenit dropped to 8-6. Jan Vesely paced the winners with a career-high 32 points, Nando De Colo added 18, Dyshawn Pierre 13 and Devin Booker 10 for Fenerbahce. Jordan Loyd paced Zenit with 19 points and Mindaugas Kuzminskas added 17. Mateusz Ponitka stepped up early and got help from Jordan Mickey and Sergey Karasev to give Zenit an 18-16 lead after 10 minutes. Zenit found another go-to guy in Kuzminskas, but Vesely, De Colo and Sehmus Hazer helped keep Fenerbahce close, 41-40 at the break. Booker put the visitors in charge, 47-50, before Kuzminskas and Loyd fueled a Zenit push to regain the lead at 62-61 at the end of the third quarter. Booker and De Colo filled a 0-8 run that gave Fenerbahce a 64-69, but Kuzminskas and Andrey Zubkov responded to put Zenit ahead 72-71 midway through the fourth quarter. De Colo and an outstanding Vesely stepped up in crunch time to carry Fenerbahce to victory.
Vesely got Fenerbahce going with a wild tomahawk slam and improved on Ponitka's fastbreak layup with a triple for a 2-5 lead. Mickey dunked and Jordan Loyd struck from downtown to give Zenit its first lead, 8-7. Vesely quickly answered with a dunk-and-foul that Karasev matched with a corner three-pointer. Ponitka found Arturas Gudaitis for a dunk and Loyd hit a jumper to boost Zenit's lead to 15-11. Vesely kept pushing Fenerbahce and got help from De Colo to give the visitors a 15-16 edge. Mickey struck from beyond the arc as Zenit regained the lead, 18-16, after 10 minutes.
Kuzminskas scored down low early in the second quarter and improved on Pierre's jump hook with a triple for a 23-18 Zenit edge. De Colo swished a jumper but Billy Baron answered from downtown and Zubkov dunked to boost Zenit's lead to 28-20. Tarik Biberovic hit a step-back jumper and Vesely followed a jump hook with a tip-in to bring the visitors within 29-26. Gudaitis rescued the hosts with a tip-in before Pierre and Kuzminskas traded dunks. Zubkov sank a three-pointer for a 36-28 advantage. Vesely struck from beyond the arc and De Colo scored off a steal but Kuzminskas and Gudaitis kept Zenit comfortably ahead, 41-33. Pierria Henry, De Colo and Hazer got Fenerbahce closer, 41-40, at halftime.
Mickey and Henry exchanged three-pointers soon after the break before Loyd banked in a floater to restore a 46-43 Zenit lead. Henry nailed a jumper and Booker followed an alley-oop slam with a corner triple to send Fenerbahce up again, 47-50. Kuzminskas rescued Zenit with a three-pointer but Vesely and Melih Mahmutoglou kept the guests in charge, 50-53. Conner Frankamp and Vesely traded jumpers and Anton Pushkov found his first points to keep the hosts within 54-55. Loyd and Frankamp each hit a triple but De Colo singlehandedly restored a Fenerbahce lead until Loyd buried a jumper that gave Zenit a 62-61 edge after 30 minutes.
Loyd kept pacing the hosts early in the fourth quarter but De Colo and Booker combined for all the points in an 0-8 Fenerbahce run to a 64-69 advantage. Kuzminskas scored in the low post and Zubkov bettered Pierre's floater with a three-pointer that sent the crowd to their feet at 69-71. Kuzminskas buried a big triple but Pierre and De Colo each scored in penetration in another 0-6 run that made Zenit call timeout at 72-77 with more than 3 minutes left. Loyd hit an off-balance shot and Baron buried a triple after the stoppage, but Vesely and Pierre kept Fenerbahce ahead, 77-82. Loyd split free throws before Vesely hit both of his at 78-84, after which Zenit didn't recover.
Vesely's career-best scoring night
Former EuroLeague MVP center Jan Vesely led Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul to an 80-86 road victory against Zenit St Petersburg with a stellar performance on Thursday. He finished the game with a career-best 32 points. His previous personal best was 31 points with Fenerbahce against CSKA Moscow on November 17, 2017. This time, Vesely started strong and finished having hit 9 of 11 two-pointers, 2 of 3 triples and 8 of 9 free throws. It all contributed to a PIR of 35, which was one shy of his personal record, 36, against Anadolu Efes Istanbul on October 25, 2018. Vesely had 15 of his team's 16 points in the first quarter and already-big numbers – 22 points on 6 of 7 two-pointers and 2 of 3 triples for a 26 PIR – at halftime.
Kuzminskas steps up for Zenit
Mindaugas Kuzminskas arguably had his best game in a Zenit St Petersburg uniform despite his team's 80-86 home loss against Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul in Round 14. Kuzminskas came off the bench and had a solid contribution with a season-high 17 points on 4-for-7 two-point and 3-for-5 three-point shooting. He added 2 rebounds and 3 fouls drawn for a PIR of 15. The last time that Kuzminskas scored as much in a EuroLeague game was on March 22, 2019, when he posted the same 17 for AX Armani Exchange Milan against Panathinaikos OPAP Athens.
By the numbers: Fenerbahce impressed inside the arc
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul struggled from beyond the arc in its Round 14 game against Zenit St Petersburg, hitting just 5 of 15 three-pointers (33.3%). The visitors' struggles were even more glaring seen alongside Zenit's hot-handed shooters, who buried 13 of 28 shots from beyond the arc (46.4%). Nonetheless, Fenerbahce was impressively effective from two-point range, hitting 25 of 32 attempts. Its two-point shooting percentage (78.1%) was the club's second-best mark in competition history. It previously recorded 85.3% accuracy by hitting 29 of 34 two-pointers in a 76-107 road win against Khimki Moscow Region on January 28, 2021. Fenerbahce was not all offense, though, against Zenit. The visitors also had 12 steals, tying their second-best mark this season.
Thursday, December 9, 2021