Credit: SIPA-Scanpix
Credit SIPA-Scanpix

Zenit Saint Petersburg started the 2021-22 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague campaign with a narrow victory over fellow Russian squad, UNICS Kazan, 70-69.

Player of the Game
Conner  Frankamp
Conner Frankamp
Points 18
Accuracy 4-10
Rebounds 1
Assists 0

Zenit’s bench boss Xavi Pascual emphasized room for improvement after the last-seconds thriller.

“The game was more or less as we thought that it would be before the game. In the last part of the game, we took an important advantage. We were, I think, 10 points up before the last 3 minutes, or the last 2:30, something like that.

And after that, we lost control of the game and this is something that we have to improve because, on some nights like today, when you have this advantage, you cannot lose the game.

So on one side, we are happy, but on the other side, it is obvious that we have to improve in a lot of scenarios,” Pascual said in a detailed comment.

Conner Frankamp, who had a successful EuroLeague debut and was a top performer for Zenit (18 PTS, 1 REB, 1 STL, 16 PIR), was happy about the game’s outcome because getting a W was the most important aspect.

“It was a hard-fought game. We know that in the second half, they would come out aggressive, and they did.

We made some critical turnovers down the stretch, but it is our first EuroLeague game. We will learn from those turnovers, and it doesn’t matter because we ended up winning. That is the most important thing.

It was tough, especially playing away the first EuroLeague game of the year, and this is their first EuroLeague game, I think, in a couple of years. We knew they would be excited to play, and we came out and were able to get the win,” said the American guard.

After a nail-biting contest, Billy Baron agreed with head coach Xavi Pascual about the need to get better.

2-pointers this season

Points made: 17,0
Accuracy: 60,7%
Place in standings: 14
Record max: 17
Record min: 17
Most made 2FGs: Artūras Gudaitis

“We knew they would play with a lot of energy. It is their first game in the EuroLeague in a while, so we knew they were going to come out with a lot of rhythm in this game.

Thankfully, it wasn’t pretty, but we came out with an important victory. Any road victory in the EuroLeague is crucial. We played really, really sloppy, so there is a lot of area for improvement, but we will get there.”

Zenit’s newcomer Jordan Loyd talked about taking care of the ball, which they didn’t do that well.

According to him, UNICS were doing a great job, as they kept hitting crucial threes at the end of the game. Like his bench boss and teammates, Loyd highlighted the learning process.

On the other side, UNICS Kazan specialist Velimir Perasovic underlined the problems on the offensive end, rebounding, and poor defensive performance against Zenit’s guards, Baron and Frankamp.

“First of all, congratulations to Zenit. They deserved the victory because, in the second half, they clearly knew what they wanted. Especially at the beginning of the last quarter, they broke the game.

The key was that in the second half, we had big problems on offense. We couldn’t score easy baskets, had problems finding good positions, and we also made bad decisions sometimes in transitions.

So, after a good defense, we were not able to put it on the scoreboard as we played poor offense. We had big problems in stopping Baron on the perimeter. There was a crucial moment that broke the game when he made 3 three-pointers in a row.

Additionally, we had problems with the rebounds throughout the whole game. With our fight and with our steals, we provoked 18 turnovers that allowed us to stay in the game.

But really, we made bad decisions offensively, and we couldn’t stop Baron. And at the beginning of the game, we also couldn’t stop their point guard, Frankamp,” finished Perasovic.

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Kazanės UNIKS
Sankt Peterburgo Zenit
Field goals

Best players

Isaiah  Canaan
18 PTS
7/13 FG
0/0 FT
Conner  Frankamp
18 PTS
4/10 FG
7/7 FT
Few players
Andrey  Zubkov
Lorenzo  Brown
6 As
2 TO
33 MIN
Mateusz  Ponitka
4 As
4 TO
23 MIN
John  Brown
15 EFF
71% 2P%
- 3P%
Conner  Frankamp
16 EFF
50% 2P%
38% 3P%