Jennings leads Zenit to big home win
Zenit St. Petersburg won its 7DAYS EuroCup Regular Season opener by downing Turk Telekom Ankara 91-80 at Sibur Arena on Wednesday. In his first-ever EuroCup game, Brandon Jennings paced the winners with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. Sergey Karasev added 17 points, while Evgeny Voronov and Jalen Reynolds each had 14 for Zenit. Sylven Landesberg led Turk Telekom with 23 points and Vladimir Stimac added 20 for the guests.
Stimac had 6 quick points to help Turk Telekom tie it at 8-8. Jennings and Marko Simonovic stepped up for Zenit and a three-pointer by Sean Armand gave his team a 19-10, after an 11-2 run. Simonovic and Karasev boosted the hosts' lead to 28-15 late in the first quarter, but T.J. Campbell and Stimac fueled a 0-9 run that brought Turk Telekom back to life at 28-24. The visitors got as close as 34-32 before Vladislav Trushkin and an unstoppable Jennings pushed Zenit to extend its margin to 51-37 at halftime. Six answered points by Karasev broke the game open at 57-37 soon after the break. Nothing changed from that moment, as Jennings beat the third-quarter buzzer to give Zenit a 73-52 margin after 30 minutes and even though Landesberg got Turk Telekom within single digits in the next-to-last minute, the hosts cruised to a well-deserved win.
Jennings had a near-perfect first half, leading his team to get a comfortable lead. He reached halftime with 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, on pace for what would have been only the eighth triple-double in EuroCup history. By halftime, Jennings already had a PIR of 24.
Did you notice?
With this win, Zenit is 7-1 in its EuroCup home opener in eight appearances in the competition. The only time it lost its first game at home was in the 2014-15 season, 86-90, against Besiktas Integral Forex Istanbul.
Zenit outrebounded Turk Telekom 38-28, including 11 offensive boards. It also had a very good assist-to-turnover ratio. Zenit dished 20 assists and and committed just 9 turnovers.
A strong start by Turk Telekom was expected after the break, when it was down by 14. Instead, Zenit improved its defense and found its regular go-to guy in Karasev. He picked up a bullet pass from Jennings and turned it into a three-point play, which he followed with a triple to make it a 20-point game.
Zenit visits Partizan NIS Belgrade in the Serbian capital on Tuesday, October 9 at 20:00 CET. Turk Telekom plays its home opener a day later, on Wednesday, October 10 at 19:00 CET against three-time EuroCup champion Valencia Basket.
Wednesday, October 3, 2018