Valencia locks up first place in Group C
Valencia Basket locked up first place in Group C by holding off Zenit St. Petersburg 97-89 at home – a result that left Zenit waiting until Round 10 to see if can advance to the next stage. Five players scored in double figures for Valencia, topped by Sam Van Rossom and Matt Thomas with 19 points each. Will Thomas added 18, Bojan Dubljevic 12 and Fernando San Emeterio 11. Valencia improved to 7-2 in the group including a perfect 5-0 record at home. Zenit dropped to 4-5. The visitors played without the competition's leading scorer Sergey Karasev, who was a last-minute scratch due to a back injury. Jalen Reynolds totalled 21 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals for Zenit, while Vladislav Trushkin had 17 points, Philip Scrubb 13 and both Vadim Panin and Evgeny Voronov had 10 points.
Valencia started the game white-hot in hitting its first six shots, including 3 three-pointers for a 15-4 advantage. The hosts cooled off and Zenit started to find its way with a Voronov three-point play and a three from Scrubb to get the gap to 25-19. Valencia led 27-19 after 10 minutes. Valencia went cold and allowed Zenit to get back into the game with Vadim Panin and Trushkin both knocking down triples as the guests evened the score at 34-34. Zenit was held scoreless for two minutes and Will Thomas scored 2 baskets in helping Valencia jump ahead 46-38. It was 47-40 at the break. Valencia began hitting three-pointers in the third quarter to wrestle control of the game with Dubljevic, San Emeterio and Matt Thomas all knocking down a three and Will Thomas draining two from the outside for a 65-51 lead. Reynolds tried to keep Zenit close with 10 points in the quarter, including his first three-pointer since the 2016-17 season. Scrubb's triple made it 70-62, but the hosts were up 74-62 after 30 minutes. Zenit used some tough defense to get back into the game, holding Valencia to 3 points in the first four minutes with an Anton Pushkov three-point play and Trushkin three cutting it to 77-70. Valencia found its game anew and Guillem Vives and Van Rossom both hit triples. The gap was 93-80 with two minutes left. A Panin three-pointer and then two Valencia turnovers and Zenit baskets trimmed it to 93-87 with one minute to play. Van Rossom sealed the outcome with 2 foul shots with 45 seconds left for the win.
Zenit was within 7 points with just more than three minutes left, but Valencia went on an 8-2 run to make it 93-80 and that was too much for the guests to overcome.
Sam Van Rossom not only scored 19 points, but he also grabbed 2 rebounds, dished out 5 assists and had 1 steal - not to mention 2 free throws with 45 seconds left, to stifle Zenit's final comeback attempt.
Valencia's Rafa Martinez became the first player to start 100 games in EuroCup history. The 36-year-old veteran tallied 3 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist in nine minutes.
The game also saw the return to the court of Valencia's Antoine Diot. The Frenchman played four minutes in the first half with 1 rebound and 1 assist in his first action in 14 months.
Valencia won the game on the glass with 29 rebounds – including 10 offensive boards – compared to Zenit's 19 total rebounds.
In Round 10
Valencia will finish off its group play with a road game at Dolomiti Energia Trento. Zenit must wait until Round 10 to secure a Top 16 ticket when it returns home to host LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne.
Tuesday, December 11, 2018