Zenit rallies past ALBA
Zenit St Petersburg rallied from a double-digit second-half deficit to down ALBA Berlin 87-71 at Sibur Arena on Tuesday. Zenit improved to 16-10 in the standings while ALBA dropped to 9-18. Kevin Pangos led the winners with 19 points, Will Thomas added 15, Mateusz Ponitka 14, Austin Hollins 13 and Alex Poythress scored 11 for Zenit. Luke Sikma paced ALBA with 18 points, Simone Fontechio netted 12, Ben Lammers 11 and Maodo Lo 10 for the visitors, who led 43-48 at halftime and extended their margin to 53-64 late in the third quarter. Poythress and Billy Baron helped Zenit take a 68-67 lead after 30 minutes. Austin Hollins scored 8 points in a 10-0 run that sealed the outcome, 82-69, as ALBA never recovered.
Poythress got Zenit going with a layup, but Lo and Fontecchio quickly gave ALBA a 2-5 lead. Hollins hit a jumper and Ponitka dunked for a 6-5 Zenit edge. Lammers downed a couple of jumpers and a dunk and Lo added a driving layup to give ALBA a 10-13 lead. Thomas and Pangos each struck from downtown and Poythress dunked in traffic for an 18-16 Zenit lead. Marcus Eriksson and Fontecchio combined for all the points in a 0-7 ALBA run, but Thomas dunked and Pangos buried a three-pointer to bring Zenit within 23-24 after 10 minutes. Eriksson hit a jumper early in the second quarter and Sikma followed a jump hook with a layup for a 23-30 ALBA lead. Pangos, Sikma and Andrey Zubkov each struck from beyond the arc before Ponitka banked in a circus shot for a 31-33 score. Lammers and Jonas Mattisseck joined the three-point shootout in an 0-8 run that boosted the guests' lead to 31-41. Thomas scored twice down low and Ponitka added a layup-plus-foul to get Zenit within 40-45. Fontecchio and Pangos exchanged triples to fix the halftime score at 43-48.
Pangos scored in penetration soon after the break and Baron improved on Lo's floater with a three-pointer. Sikma buried a couple of fallaway jumpers and Lammers added a jump hook to give ALBA fresh air at 50-58. Johannes Thiemann, Pangos, Sikma and Ponitka each struck from downtown and Thomas added a layup for a 58-64 score. Baron downed a triple and Poythress followed a three-point play with a huge alley-oop dunk that completed Zenit's comeback, 66-64. Eriksson buried a three-pointer, but Poythress kept the hosts ahead, 68-67, after 30 minutes. Tarik Black took over with a reverse layup and a jump hook early in the fourth quarter. Sikma scored again, but Hollins hit a jumper and a couple of triples in a 10-0 run that broke the game open, 82-69, with 4 minutes left and Zenit remains in control until the final buzzer.
Kevin Pangos dictated the game tempo in the second half and was a scoring threat all game long. He finished the game with 19 points on 5-of-10 three-point shooting plus 4 rebounds, 7 assists, just 1 turnover and 4 fouls drawn for a game-high PIR of 26.
ALBA led 53-64 late in the third quarter, but Zenit did not panic. Mateusz Ponitka and Billy Baron each struck from beyond the arc in a 13-0 run in which Alex Poythress added a three-point play and an alley-oop slam. Zenit took the lead, 66-64, and went on to dominate the game.
ALBA hit 10 of 17 two-pointers (58.8%) and 7 of 15 shots from downtown (46.7%) before the break, tallying 14 assists and 6 turnovers. After halftime, Zenit's defense forced ALBA into 5-of-16 two-point shooting (31.3%), 3-of-12 on three-pointers (25%) with just 4 assists and 8 turnovers.
Did you know?
Will Thomas set a new career-high by collecting 4 steals against ALBA. He had previously recorded 3 steals twice - with Valencia Basket against Zalgiris Kaunas on December 21, 2017, and with Unicaja Malaga against Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar on March 31, 2016.
Both teams return to action later on this week. Zenit hosts Real Madrid on Thursday, March 4. Rivers, who won the EuroLeague with Real in 2015, faces his former team. ALBA visits Khimki Moscow Region the next evening.
Tuesday, March 2, 2021