Zenit Clinches 3rd Place At Loko's Expense

Zenit St. Petersburg defeated Lokomotiv-Kuban Krasnodar at home, 79-73, in the final game of the regular season. With 3rd place and home-court advantage in the first round on the line, both teams gave everything on the court. St. Petersburg ultimately came out on top, finishing 3rd in only its second season in the league.

The winner of this game advanced to play Avtodor, while the loser had to face Khimki. On Tuesday, Lokomotiv broke through to the Euroleague Final Four for the first time in club history, defeating Barcelona at home in Game 5 of their quarterfinal series.

Playing without Anthony Randolph and already fatigued, Kuban took a long time to get going. Points didn't come easy in the opening minutes and the defense struggled to contain Zenit's up-tempo approach. The Railwaymen were also outhustled on the glass by their fresher opponents.

Much like the game against Barcelona, Chris Singleton gave the visitors a spark off the bench, helping break up Loko's monotony on offense. Trailing by double digits for much of the half, Singleton's 18 points in the opening 20 minutes pulled Krasnodar within three at halftime, 42-39.

Lokomotiv was much better to start the 3rd quarter. The Red-Greens took the lead, this time without Singleton, led by Evgeny Voronov and Andrey Zubkov. St. Petersburg, however, responded. Ryan Toolson got hot, chipping in 13 points in the period to keep Zenit on top, 64-62.

Turning Point
The pressure continued to rise in the 4th quarter. Zenit's defense delivered, holding the visitors scoreless for five and a half minutes, while Toolson knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to make it a seven-point game.

Kuban made one final comeback thanks to clutch shooting from Victor Claver and Malcolm Delaney, but the home team would not be denied. Omar Thomas delivered a huge 3-pointer with 1:07 to play and Zenit went on to win.

Star Player
Ryan Toolson. The Zenit leader got going late in the game, scoring 23 points to guide his team to victory.

Stat of the Game
14 - Zenit won the rebounding battle by a wide margin (42-28, including 16-7 on the offensive glass). Georgios Bartzokas asked his men to rebound better during almost every timeout, but St. Petersburg never let them.

Zenit head coach Vasily Karasev:
- The excitement is really high right now and it's hard to comment at all. Given all the difficulties we faced this season, finishing 3rd is a huge accomplishment. As for the game, this was a battle for 3rd place and the players' effort and physical condition had a big role. After Lokomotiv qualified for the Euroleague Final Four, Kuban felt worse physically and mentally. Give them credit, they still gave everything they had and battled to the final seconds.

Lokomotiv-Kuban head coach Georgios Bartzokas:
- This was a very interesting game. Two teams, battling for 3rd place, went head-to-head. Obviously, it was hard for us to recover from the tough game against Barcelona, which we played in two days ago and which took a lot of strength and energy. Zenit played excellent basketball. I want to congratulate them on the win and wish them luck in the playoffs.