Valencia hits threes, holds off Zenit
Valencia Basket registered its third consecutive road win, holding off a late comeback by Zenit St Petersburg to pull out an 81-86 win on Friday night. Valencia improved to 10-10 on the season, while Zenit dropped to 6-14. Valencia never trailed in the second half, and held a 14-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter, but the hosts needed less than 5 minutes to erase the deficit. However, Aaron Doornekamp hit a pair of triples in the final 4 minutes, to help Valencia restore the advantage and secure victory. Vanja Marinkovic netted 14 points in 13 minutes to lead Valencia in scoring. Brock Motum had 12 points, while Doornekamp and Maurice Ndour had 11 apiece in victory. Sam Van Rossom contributed with 9 points and 8 assists. EuroLeague rookie Andrew Albicy scored his competition-best 18 points for Zenit. Andrey Zubkov had 13, and Evgeny Voronov netted 10 in a losing effort.
Valencia made the first little run, sparked with a triple from Ndour to make it 4-9. The hosts answered scoring 8 consecutive points, as Alex Renfroe had a three-point play and Mateusz Ponitka followed it with a three-pointer. Zenit dominated the offensive glass and increased it to 16-11, but the visitors scored the last 9 points of the quarter. Marinkovic hit a three to end the scoring in the first, and Motum nailed one to open the second for a 16-23 lead. Albicy knocked down a jumper and a three for the hosts, and Zenit kept closing in with help of put-backs from Tim Abromaitis and Colton Iverson. Albicy's transition three-pointer gave Zenit 34-32, but Ndour snapped a 9-0 run with a second-chance layup before fastbreak baskets from Fernando San Emeterio and Jordan Loyd restored the visitors' lead. The half ended with San Emeterio and Loyd each hitting a triple on one end, and Albicy nailing a pair for the hosts to make it 42-46 at halftime. Alberto Abalde's triple was the lone basket in the first 3 minutes of the second half, before the teams traded baskets inside. Zenit remained successful crashing the offensive glass, but Doornekamp's triple made it 46-54 midway through the third. The visitors stepped up on defense to keep the margin safe, and Motum scored 5 points in the final 40 seconds of the quarter, including a last-second three-point play extending it to 51-63. A triple-plus-foul from Marinkovic widened the gap to 53-67 in the opening minute of the fourth, before Vladislav Trushkin, Albicy and Zubkov started Zenit's charge. Van Rossom hit a three-pointer, but Voronov answered with one of his own. A three-point play from Zubkov and another three from Voronov tied it at 74-74 with 4:25 to go, but Ndour inside and Doornekamp from outside restored Valencia's lead. Another three-pointer from Doornekamp extended it to 76-84 in penultimate minute, as Valencia closed it out.
Valencia hit 11-for-17 from three-point range for a club single-game record 64.7%. Eight different Valencia players made at least one three point shot. Interestingly, in the first leg between these two teams, Valencia made 16-for-29 threes for 55.2%, which was the only time this season they shot above 50% before this game.
Overcoming offensive boards
Zenit outrebounded Valencia 18-6 on the offensive glass. Valencia entered this game as the top offensive rebounding team (11.95 per game), and Zenit was just behind (11.84). But in this one, with the visitors shorthanded inside missing Bojan Dubljevic and Mike Tobey, Zenit dominated the boards. However, Valencia overcame that with three-point shooting and its defense in the first three quarters.
Free throw perfect
It is a rarity, but there were no missed free throws in this game. Zenit made 6 of 6, and Valencia hit all 11 of its foul shots.
Valencia has not only won two games on Russian soil this week, but has now won its last three road games, also registering wins in four of its last five games and six of its last eight. After a 0-5 start, Valencia is now 10-10.
Next week in round 21, Valencia will be back to Russia to face defending champ CSKA Moscow, while Zenit remains at home to take on Olympiacos Piraeus.
Friday, January 17, 2020