Valencia dominates in St Petersburg
Valencia Basket chalked up its third consecutive victory with a dominating 62-91 road victory at Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday night at Sibur Arena. The final margin was Valencia's largest ever in a road game and Zenit's worst ever. Valencia raised its record to 14-12 while Zenit, which was held to a season-low in scoring, saw its record slip to 15-10. After Alex Poythress took a steal in for a slam to make it a 1-point game in the first minute of the second quarter, Valencia dominated the rest of the way, outscoring Zenit 19-47 over the game's final 17 minutes. Bojan Dubljevic led five Valencia scorers in double figures with 19 points. Nikola Kalinic shined with 12 points and a career-high 10 assists, Mike Tobey scored 12 off the bench and Derrick Williams and Sam Van Rossom added 10 points apiece. Alex Poythress paced Zenit with 12 points and Billy Baron had 11.
Williams opened the scoring with a put-back and Kalinic scored twice. A three by Dubljevic made it 2-9. After Will Thomas scored Zenit's first two baskets, Kevin Pangos's triple made it 7-11. Zenit twice closed the gap to three, but Dubljevic connected again from deep and Klemen Prepelic free throws made it 13-20. Poythress came off the bench to score twice and trim the gap to 19-22 after 10 minutes. Baron's three-pointer tied the game on the first possession of the second quarter. Valencia quickly regained control and a three by Prepelic made it 24-29. A three by Andrey Zubkov trimmed the deficit before Denis Zakharov was fouled shooting a three and made the resulting free throws to give the hosts their first lead, 32-31. Van Rossom came back for 7 quick Valencia points to push the visitors back on top, 34-38. Dubljevic put Valencia up 5 before a put-back by Mateusz Ponitka drew Zenit within 41-44 at the halftime break.
The defenses stepped up early in the second half with each team scoring just once in the first 4 minutes. A three-point play by Dubljevic and a layup by Williams raised the difference to 43-51 and prompted a Zenit timeout. Joan Sastre's triple gave Valencia its first double-digit lead. Zenit finally found its groove on offense, but had no answer for the visitors' attack. Williams and Tobey scored inside as the margin soared to 48-62. Austin Hollins made it 50-62 after three quarters. A three by Baron gave Zenit hope to open the fourth quarter, but it failed to inspire any momentum. A three by Tobey capped a 0-8 Valencia run – during which Tobey scored 7 – for a commanding 53-70 advantage. Kalinic scored inside to make it a 20-point game. After back-to-back threes by Vanja Marinkovic and Tobey, Dubljevic made it 56-86 with less than 2 minutes remaining as Valencia wrapped up an impressive win.
Nikola Kalinic recorded his first career double-double and recorded his best PIR in a Valencia uniform as the victor's star on the night. The 2017 EuroLeague champ scored 12 points on perfect shooting (5-of-5 on two-pointers and 2-of-2 on free throws) and added 3 rebounds, a career-high 10 assists and 2 steals in accumulating a PIR of 25, which was 1 off his career-best. He bettered his previous career-high in assists by 3.
Valencia had all the right numbers as it outshot Zenit from all ranges, outrebounded the hosts 25-35 and dished 21 assists to Zenit's 13. Valencia sank 63.9% of its two-pointers (23 of 36), was 45% on threes (9 of 20) and was perfect in 18 trips to the foul line.
A historic difference
Valencia tied its third-largest margin of victory – and recorded its largest ever on the road – in outscoring Zenit by 29. Its only two bigger wins were both by 38: in December 2014 over Neptunas Klaipeda and in October 2017 over Unicaja Malaga. The result eclipsed a 63-87 home defeat at the hands of FC Barcelona for Zenit's largest-ever margin of defeat.
Zenit will try to recapture its winning form when it hosts ALBA Berlin in Round 27 on Tuesday, March 2. Valencia will travel to Turkey for its next game, that same evening, at Anadolu Efes Istanbul.
Thursday, February 25, 2021