At the start of the week, on Monday, Valencia took off on a long trip to Russia without its two centers, Mike Tobey and Bojan Dubljevic. The latter alone is among the best EuroLeague performers this season, worth 14.4 points (ranks eighth) and 6.9 rebounds (fourth) per game, and an average 18.4 index points (ninth).
Well, five days later, depleted Valencia has two more wins on its tally. After downing Khimki Moscow Region on Tuesday, Valencia survived allowing 18 offensive rebounds while holding off Zenit St Petersburg 81-86 on Friday night, to improve its record to 10-10 in seventh place in the standings.
"We had a lot of problems with rebounds," coach Jaume Ponsarnau admitted after the game. "But we lived through that situation with good passing and a good mentality, and in the end we won the game."
That mentality best showed in three-point shooting. Valencia hit 11-for-17 from three-point range, and that 64.7% accuracy set a club single-game record. Eight different Valencia players made at least one three-point shot, allowing the team to never trail in the second half despite Zenit repeatedly getting second-chance attempts.
"We are 14 guys, and when one man is down somebody else needs to step up," said big man Maurice Ndour after being one of those guys who did step up. He had 11 points, missing just one shot the entire night, and also contributed with 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks for a career-high PIR of 23.
Among others to step up, Sam Van Rossom delivered 8 assists, Vanja Marinkovic netted 14 points in 13 minutes, and Brock Motum scored 12 in 16 minutes. Meanwhile, Aaron Dornenkamp shot 3-for-3 from long range, including two key triples in the final minutes to seal the victory, Valencia's sixth in eight games which have catapulted a team that started the season 0-5 firmly into the playoffs conversation.