By Eurohoops team / email@example.com
Zenit St. Petersburg came out feisty in Istanbul to defeat Anadolu Efes 73-69 in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague opener, led by an outstanding performance by Kevin Pangos. The Canadian guard posted 23 points, 7 assists and with a few decisive shots across the second half, he turned the tables of the game in Zenit’s favour.
Pangos scored 18 of his total 23 points during the second half, as the Russian side returned from a five-point deficit in the fourth period and with a partial 24-15 run managed to outran their hosts to achieve their first victory of the season.
“I think we just dug deep. We didn’t play great the first three quarters at all, things weren’t clicking. But I think the guys really fought until the end. It wasn’t pretty, but that’s what you need in a season – to grind out these victories and I think we did that today”, he said after the game.
KC Rivers also played a big part in the victory, with 14 points, five rebounds, while Alex Poythress came out hot in the second half with some impressive plays in his EuroLeague debut, exiting the game with 7 points.
Scoring from the perimeter turned out to be the biggest struggle for both teams in the first half. Efes, the competition’s best-scoring team from the three-point line in the 2019-20 season (42.5%), had 2/13 from afar, while things weren’t that much better for the Russian side that had 2/10 in the first 20 minutes.
“For sure we didn’t play at the level on offense that we would like to. I think it was agame that at some points looked more like a preseason game than an official game. I think this is logical in this situation. Both teams fought to win. I think in our side I think we had control of the game except for the beginning of the second quarter and the beginning of the third quarter”, commented coach Xavi Pascual post-game.
After an awkward first half that ended with both teams at 26 points, Krunoslav Simon and Rodrigue Beaubois took charge early in the third period as the hosts were up with a 14-5 run. Pangos helped the visiting team stay in touch with the deficit, after hitting back-to-back off-balance threes at the buzzer, though Efes was still up 54-49 after 30′.
With Shane Larkin sidelined due to injury, Ergin Ataman’s squad had Vasilije Micic with 17 points, 9 assists and two rebounds, Simon with 14 points and three rebounds, and Beaubois with 10 points, three rebounds.
Enjoy the highlights of the season opener below: