Ponitka leads Zielona Gora to road win in St. Petersburg
Stelmet Zielona Gora improved its chances to make it to the Eurocup elimination series in Group L by downing previously undefeated Zenit St. Petersburg 69-73 on the road on Wednesday. Zielona Gora improved to 2-2 in Group L while Zenit still leads at 3-1 and will qualify with its next win, regardless of other scores. Mateusz Ponitka led the winners with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks. Dejan Borovnjak and Vlad Moldoveanu each added 12 while Dee Bost had 10 for Zielona Gora. Ryan Toolson led Zenit with 23 points. Artem Vikhrov and Anton Pushkov each had 10 for the hosts. Moldoveanu and Ponitka shined early to give Zielona Gora a 18-22 lead after 10 minutes. A step-back jumper by Bost soon made it a nine-point gane, 21-30, but Toolson and Pavel Antipov stepped up for Zenit and a jumper by Pushkov tied it at 33-33 at halftime. Ponitka kept pacing Zielona Gora after the break and got plenty of help from Borovnjak to make it a double-digit game, 49-60, at the end of the third quarter. The guests extended their margin to 56-70 but Zabian Dowdell, Toolson and Janis Timma brought Zenit within 69-72. A free throw by Nemanja Djurisic and a critical block by Ponitka allowed Zielona Gora to stop the hosts' comeback.
Andrey Koshcheev got Zenit going with a layup which Bost erased with a driving basket. Vikhrov struck from downtown and Koshcheev added a layup-plus-foul but back-to-back triples by Moldoveanu and a free throw by Ponitka gave Zielona Gora its first lead, 8-9. Antipov and Lukasz Koszarek traded baskets and a three-point play by Toolson restored a 13-11 Zenit edge. Ponitka sank an off-balance shot and a reverse layup by Djurisic put the guests back ahead, 13-15. Ponitka hit foul shots and a layup by Adam Hrycaniuk made Zenit call timeout at 14-19. Timma hit foul shots and Pushkov forced Zielona Gora to stop the game at 18-19. A free throw by Hrycaniuk and a put-back basket by Ponitka gave the guests a 18-22 edge after 10 minutes. Hrycaniuk scored again early in the second quarter and a fast break layup by Djurisic made it an eight-point game, 18-26. Toolson rescued Zenit with a corner triple but Bost followed a running layup with a step-back jumper to boost his team's margin to 21-30. Toolson shined with a turnaround jumper and Dmitry Golovin added a three-pointer for a 27-30 score. Moldoveanu split free throws off a Zielona Gora timeout and erased Antipov's six-meter shot with a layup. Free throws by Toolson and a buzzer-beating jumper by Pushkov fixed the halftime score at 33-33.
Ponitka struck from downtown right after the break and soon added a put-back basket to make Zenit call timeout at 33-38. Vikrov tried to change things with a fast break layup which Toolson followed with a wild three-pointer to tie it again, 38-38. Koszarek quickly answered with a layup and Moldoveanu struck from beyond the arc for a 38-43 Zielona Gora lead. Borovnjak scored around the basket and another triple by Toolson kept Zenit within 41-45. Borovnjak made free throws and even Golovin hit a close jumper, Ponitka and Bost made it an eight-point game, 43-51. Artem Komissarov and Pushkov made free throws but Ponitka followed a high-flying tip-in wuth a layup and Karol Gruszecki hit a triple that made it a double-digit game, 47-58. Toolson made free throws and a close basket by Borovnjak gave Zielona Gora a 49-60 margin after 30 minutes. Toolson nailed his fourth triple early in the fourth quarter. Borovnjak made free throws and Djurisic added a layup for a 52-64 score. Borovnjak and Vikhrov traded baskets and Pushkov gave Zenit hope at 56-66. Borovnjak scored again and a coast-to-coast basket by Bost seemed to seal the outcome, 56-70. Vikhrov and Pushkov kept pacing Zenit, however, and free throws by Toolson got the hosts within 62-70. Koszarek scored again but Timma and Dowdell, who had been scoreless until then, brought Zenit within 69-72 already in the final minute. Djurisic split free throws with 14 seconds left and a block by Ponitka on Toolson's three-point shot sealed the outcome down the stretch.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016