Zenit Russia defeated Tsmoki-Minsk Belarus at home, 84-72 (27-13, 24-22, 15-20, 18-17).
Zenit: Marko Simonovic (20), Jalen Reynolds (17 + 10 reb), Evgeny Voronov (12 + 5 reb)
Tsmoki-Minsk: Zisis Sarikopoulos (17), Yauheni Beliankou (10)
Zenit got a scare from last-place Minsk in the 4th quarter, but held on to win its fourth in a row and remain in 5th place.
The home team jumped out to a 27-11 lead in the 1st quarter behind 13 points from Marko Simonovic. The Serbian sniper was on fire early, draining four 3-pointers in the opening period.
St. Petersburg led by as much as 23 in the first half, though Minsk was able to cut the deficit to 16 at halftime, 51-35.
The Belarusians played much better in the second half. Zisis Sarikopoulos, who finished with a team-high 17, scored seven points in the first five minutes of the 3rd quarter, trimming Zenit’s lead to 12.
Trailing by 11 entering the final quarter, Tsmoki used a 10-0 run midway through the period to make it a four-point game. Brion Rush hit back-to-back triples.
The Zenit answer came from big man Jalen Reynolds. First, Reynolds found an open Evgeny Voronov on the perimeter for only his second assist of the game, then he split the Tsmoki defense for a layup to put St. Petersburg on top, 79-70.
The home team cruised over the final two minutes, sealing its 14th victory of the season and regaining 5th place following Astana’s win earlier in the day.
Tsmoki-Minsk remains in last place with a 3-18 record.
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) March 30, 2019
16 – Zenit’s rebounding edge (40-24). St. Petersburg’s big men were completely dominant inside in the victory.
Zenit head coach Joan Plaza: “I’m not happy about today’s game. We let ourselves stop again during the game. Unfortunately, so far we haven’t been able to play an entire game at a consistent level. As soon as we pick up a big lead, we start to relax. Ahead of the playoffs, that’s not permissible. Up next are three games against teams above us in the standings. We’d like to win four of our next five games.”
Tsmoki-Minsk Rostislav Vergun: “We lost the game in the last five minutes of the 2nd quarter. We let our opponent score very easy baskets and go ahead by 20 points. It’s very difficult to catch a team as good as Zenit. I’m grateful to the guys that we were able to do it, but the game consists of 40 minutes and you need to play the same all 40. In the end, we just ran out of steam.”