Despite loss at Rytas, Zenit advances to EuroCup playoffs
Zenit St. Petersburg reached the 7DAYS EuroCup quarterfinals despite an 86-84 loss against Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius in Group G in the Lithuanian capital on Wednesday. Both teams finished Group G with 3-3 records, but Zenit had the tie-breaker due to an 88-79 win in Round 2 in St. Petersburg. Accordingly, Zenit placed second and will face Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar in the best-of-three quarterfinal playoffs series, while Rytas is third and thus eliminated. Sergey Karasev led Zenit with 24 points, Janis Timma added 21 and Stefan Markovic tallied 10 points and 9 assists. David Logan led Rytas with 28 points, Corey Fisher added 17, Drew Gordon had 14 and Rokas Giedraitis and Arturas Gudaitis each scored 11 for the hosts. Zenit hit 9 of 12 two-point shots in the first quarter to take a double-digit lead, 12-22. Logan, who had 20 points before the break, brought Rytas to within 36-40. Rytas held Zenit to just 11-of-31 three-point shooting (35.5%), which allowed the hosts to win the game, but Zenit walked away with a playoffs berth.
A five-meter jumper by Karasev and a dunk by Timma prompted Rytas to call an early timeout at 0-4. Clevin Hannah and Gordon stepped up for Rytas and a three-pointer by Logan gave the hosts their first lead, 9-8. It didn't last long, as Anton Pushkov and Aaron White each dunked in a 1-12 run in which Markovic had 4 points. A layup by Evgeny Valiev made it a double-digit game, 12-22, after 10 minutes. Logan and Giedraitis stepped up for Rytas early in the second quarter, but back-to-back jumpers by Karasev and Trevor Mbakwe caused Coach Tomas Pacesas to stop the game at 16-27. Giedraitis followed a layup with a triple and after Timma struck twice from downtown, an unstoppable Logan brought Rytas within 28-33. Zenit went on a 0-7 run, which Karasev capped with a three-pointer, but Logan buried a couple of triples and added an off-balance basket to get within 36-40 at the break. Karasev and Valiev kept pushing Zenit after the break and Timma followed a layup with a three-pointer to restore a double-digit lead, 40-51. Logan buried a step-back jumper and Gordon added a put-back slam in an 11-0 run that Fisher capped with free throws to tie the game at 51-51. Markovic struck twice from beyond the arc, but Giedraitis answered with consecutive layups and Fisher hit 4 free throws and added a buzzer-beating triple for a 64-61 Rytas lead after 30 minutes. White and Karasev buried back-to-back three-pointer to put Zenit back in charge, 66-67, early in the fourth quarter. Fisher and Gordon took over, but a jump hook by Kyle Landry and a triple by Timma tied the game at 75-75 with three minutes left. Zenit kept running the clock down with long possessions and a three-pointer by Timma allowed Zenit to celebrate that it will keep fighting for EuroCup glory!
Wednesday, February 8, 2017