Zenit Sets Up Loko Showdown

Zenit St. Petersburg defeated UNICS Kazan at home, 89-65. Vasily Karasev's club desperately needed a win and played like it, outgunning the visitors in the 2nd and 4th quarters to secure the win. With the victory, Zenit improves to 22-7 and has a chance to finish 3rd in the regular season with a win over Lokomotiv-Kuban on Thursday.

UNICS had already clinched the two-seed in the playoffs, while Zenit needed a win to keep its top-3 hopes alive. A loss on Sunday would have dropped St. Petersburg to 5th place with no chance of moving up.

UNICS guard Anton Ponkrashov was very active in the first half, but struggled from the field, going 1-5. Latavious Williams (6-6) and Artem Parakhouski (3-5) picked up the slack, but had little support from the rest of the team.

Zenit was more balanced on offense, while limiting the visitors to 39 first-half points. The home team also had success in transition, knocking down 65% of its two-point field-goal attempts. Omar Thomas and Zabian Dowdell scored 11 and 12, respectively, in the half to give Zenit a 12-point advantage.

UNICS failed to shift the momentum in the second half. Top scorer Keith Langford went just 2-9 from the field and 3-6 at the line in the first three quarters. Lacking a punch on offense, the visitors scored only 14 points in the 3rd quarter, trailing by 13 entering the final period.

The 4th quarter belonged to Zenit. Janis Timma and Andrey Desyatnikov helped the Blue-White-Sky Blues increase the advantage to 20 points, erasing any doubt over the outcome.

Star Player
Omar Thomas. The Zenit forward was extremely useful, stepping up in big moments. He finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, five assists, four steals in addition to drawing six fouls.

Stat of the Game
10 - number of points scored by Langford. The regular season's top scorer averages 20 points per outing, but couldn't solve Zenit's defense on Sunday.

Zenit head coach Vasily Karasev:
- This was a very needed and important win. We continue to battle for 3rd place. During the first half, we had trouble in the pick-and-roll. UNICS's big men were able to score on a lot of dunks. We had also trouble when our opponents had a height advantage and played in the post. Overall, we followed the game plan and did a good job on defense. During the second half, we took complete control of the momentum.

UNICS head coach Evgeny Pashutin:
- We didn't play our best game on defense today. Zenit scored 91 points, when we usually give up 70 or less. We didn't have an opportunity to do damage on offense because of 17 turnovers. Our guards, who are supposed to run the game, gave up 5-6 turnovers each. This game is a good lesson for us prior to the playoff series with Nizhny Novgorod. If we don't play at full strength or aren't 100% motivated for a game against any VTB United League opponent, this is what happens. We've got some things to think about for the playoffs. Zenit deserved to win today.