Zenit pushes back Bayern for return to wins

By Eurohoops team/ [email protected]

Zenit St. Petersburg saw a 17 -point lead getting evaporated and then had to make a comeback of its own before beating Bayern Munich 79 – 71 in their first home game this season to return to wins in EuroLeague.

Bayern, that is still minus star forward Vladimir Lucic, remains winless after four rounds. The German side went up 52 – 60 at the end of the third period after trailing by 13 at halftime but their opponents pulled off a 12-3 3un to take a 64 – 62 lead with six minutes to play.

Zenit never lost its advantage. Alex Poythress made a 3-point play after an offensive foul and Billy Baron drained a pair of free throws to put the hosts up 77 – 68 with a minute remaining to basically seal the win for their team.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Poythress said. “Bayern played well, we played good too. Me and coach had a conversation about fighting today and that’s what I tried to do and all my teammates too, especially in those last couple of minutes. It was a good win for us… We have to take care of our home court and on the road we have to win too. If we do that, we’ll do well.”

Poythress was named game MVP after finishing with 14 points plus six rebounds. Jordan Mickey scored 16 out of his team-high 18 points in the first quarter where Zenit went up even 29 – 12, and Conner Frankamp produced 12 points. Jordan Loyd made a difference as a playmaker with a EuroLeague career-high 11 assists to go with his nine points.

Darrun Hilliard “ignited” in the third period with 11 straight points and three consecutive 3-pointers to lead Bayern’s turnaround. He finished with 24 points while Corey Walden had 20 points and seven assists.

A lesson without a cost

The score development served as a lesson for Zenit according to coach Xavi Pascual who saw two different faces from his team.

“In the last quarter, we came back in the game,” Pascual said. “We started to feel the game again through defense. It was a difficult situation in the last part of the third period. But step by step, we were better on defense, we were better on offense and we could change the way of the game. It is a big lesson for us. We opened the game very well, we played close to 19 minutes, 15 seconds very well. Everything changed in two actions. And at the beginning of the third quarter, they started with possession and after that, we couldn’t score, we missed some free throws. The game was completely different. And it is a good lesson that when you have the advantage in the score, you have to keep the way and you have to continue playing.”

Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

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