Credit: BNS
Credit BNS

Zenit St. Petersburg earned a valuable win in Istanbul against Anadolu Efes without almost any difficulty. Coach Xavi Pascual reflected his satisfaction with the third win in succession (in Euroleague and VTB League combined) and his teams' overall effort. 

Player of the Game
Mindaugas  Kuzminskas
EFF
22
Mindaugas Kuzminskas
Points 15
Accuracy 5-9
Rebounds 5
Assists 1

"We are very happy with the win," Pascual noted in his press conference. "It was one game that from the beginning, we approached the game more or less well starting from the first quarter."

"In the first quarter, we lose six offensive rebounds that kept Efes inside of the game. After that, we controlled the game. In the fourth quarter, we tried to bring the tempo down in order to close the game. So we are going home satisfied with what we did tonight. It is only the beginning of the season, but it was a great win," Pascual added. 

Until this night, Zenit's offensive problems were standing as an obstacle for a better record as their points per game (73) are still among the lowest five of EuroLeague.

Despite being a defensively solid unit, their 33% accuracy from 3-point range after five Euroleague games was another aspect that required improvement.

Since then, Zenit's shooters started to get hot again as their overall 3 point accuracy jumped to 37%, with tonights' 45% superb effort behind the arc. For Pascual, this is one of the key parts of their recent winning run. 

"We are working hard to improve our game every day. We had tremendous problems with our point guards, our guards became injured at the beginning of the season. After that, we had problems in terms of creation in the previous games.

Also, we were not very effective from the 3-point line. According to how basketball is being played right now, 3-point accuracy is very important. When you have an advantage, you have to score.

3-pointers this season

35%
8,5
Points made: 8,5
Accuracy: 34,9%
Place in standings: 8
Record max: 11
Record min: 6
Most made 3FGs: Vasilije Micic

Tonight, we were effective on the 3-point line, and that is extremely important. Also, we had fewer turnovers than in the previous games. All the games are different, but tonight, we played better. We hope to play like this in the next games," said Zenit's head coach. 

Zenit is also still expecting their NBA-import Shabazz Napier to return from injury. Napier's impressive start by scoring 33 points against UNICS was cut short, and the club from St. Petersburg is looking forward to his comeback.

Pascual pointed that Napier's 100% recovery is soon, but he does not have any intentions to rush him back to court before he reaches full health. 

"We are going day by day. I think we are in the last part of his recovery. But I think we need more than one week. We don't want to put pressure on the player. All the people are working hard to help him recover.

I don't like to put pressure on players in these situations, he must be healthy when he is back. But despite his absence, the team shows tonight that, as a team, we are working well," Pascual concluded.

On the other side, Efes coach Ergin Ataman looked frustrated after suffering another home loss, this time with a big margin.

As his head-to-head record against Pascual teams fell to 1-11, he had a difficult time explaining which department hurts the most regarding the problems that Efes is having currently. 

"It is a very bad loss for us. I don't want to pick a specific aspect of our game as the first thing to address because tonight, we were terrible in all aspects.

We gave them offensive rebounds. We gave them easy 3-point shots in the last seconds of the shot-clock. In offense, we started to play in panic. We lost control of the game.

In the 4th quarter, we tried to come back, but it was too late, the game was already lost with that 26 points difference in the 3rd quarter.  We are going to analyze what is wrong," said Ataman.

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Stambulo Anadolu Efes
Sankt Peterburgo Zenit
49%
31/63
Field goals
55%
34/62
27
Rebounds
34
15
Assists
19
7
Steals
7
2
Blocks
3
56%
24/43
2-pointers
65%
20/31

Best players

Shane  Larkin
14 PTS
5/9 FG
2/2 FT
Conner  Frankamp
18 PTS
7/10 FG
0/1 FT
Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Few players
5 REB
Zenit St Petersburg
Few players
5 REB
Shane  Larkin
5 As
3 TO
25 MIN
Billy   Baron
5 As
1 TO
26 MIN
Shane  Larkin
20 EFF
60% 2P%
50% 3P%
Mindaugas  Kuzminskas
22 EFF
67% 2P%
50% 3P%