Zenit defeated VEF in Game 2 of the quarterfinals, 79-74 (10-18, 29-21, 20-14, 20-21).
Zenit: Aaron White (21+5 reb), Ryan Toolson (20+3 stl), Janis Timma (12+7 reb), Stefan Markovic (10+8 ast)
VEF: Martins Meiers (18+12 reb), Kristopher Richard (11+6 reb), Mareks Mejeris (10+6 reb)
Leading by eight points with under three minutes to play, Zenit almost gave the game away. Kristopher Richard’s 3-pointer made it a one-point game with 1:24 remaining, but Ryan Toolson rescued the home team with a jumper and steal in the final seconds that sealed the outcome.
Early on, VEF looked in control. The visitors went up 18-10 in the 1st quarter behind six points from the Martins Meiers.
The next two quarters, however, belonged to the home team. St. Petersburg outscored Riga by 14 points over 20 minutes, leading by as much as nine points midway through the 3rd quarter.
The 4th quarter was much more competitive. Down six, Riga quickly knotted the score at 61 apiece with eight points coming from the Meiers-Mejeris duo.
But Zenit gradually pulled away again, buoyed by Toolson’s electric 14-point 4th-quarter showing. In the end, Riga wouldn’t have enough for one more comeback.
Zenit moves to 2-0 in the series, one win from advancing to the semifinals. Game 3 will be in Riga on Saturday.
Zenit vs VEF one minute highlights 📽 pic.twitter.com/QmEETAP9Uu
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) May 3, 2017
46-26 – VEF enjoyed a huge edge in the paint, outscoring Zenit by 20. Despite struggling to contain Riga’s big men, St. Petersburg did just enough at the free-throw line (20-26) and on the perimeter (9-23) to secure the win.
Zenit head coach Vasily Karasev:
– This was a really tough game. VEF played well today and made it very physical. It turns out our team wasn’t completely prepared for that.
VEF head coach Janis Gailitis:
– We had a bad start to the second half, which meant we had to play catch-up. At the end, Ryan Toolson hit some very tough shots and showed his level of talent. On the other hand, we couldn’t hit our big shot. Even so, I’m happy with the team. They showed character. We had every chance to win in St. Petersburg, but now we need to prepare for the game in Riga.
Game 3: May 6 in Riga, 5:00 PM MSK