Bayern Basketball faces Zenit St. Petersburg

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The phrases are repetitive, but they are appropriate: The Bayern basketball team faces an immensely difficult, if not the most difficult week to date, starting on Wednesday with three games in five days. Two EuroLeague teams, the fourth-placed Zenit St. Petersburg and the third-placed Real Madrid star ensemble (Friday, 20:30), will both be visiting the Audi Dome. The grueling trilogy is then completed on Sunday afternoon (15:00) with the duel against the surprise team of the BBL season, the Hamburg Towers.

As always, all games will be shown on MagentaSport. The game against Zenit will start at 19:30.  


After the much-discussed 84-82 loss at Olympiakos Piraeus, it won't get any easier for the Munich team (11-7, sixth place) to maintain its good position in the thick of the race. Especially since the personnel situation has been an issue of late. Of the recently missing quintet, Zan Mark Sisko and Robin Amaize (muscle injuries) will definitely not be available again. In contrast, the extent to which FCBB top scorer Vladimir Lucic (14.4 ppg) will be able to contribute after a long injury, is hard to determine. 

Andrea Trinchieri: "Zenit is a hot team".
"I appreciate that EuroLeague reviewed the final play of our game at Olympiakos and released a statement on the wrong decision, that shows transparency," said Andrea Trinchieri with a final look back at last Friday. "But now it's time to get back on the court and maybe get back what we missed in the last game. Zenit is a hot team though, they are playing very well at the moment and winning. They have a lot of experience in their ranks and several players who hit threes well. We need to be at our highest level in terms of concentration and energy." 

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Zenit is without question the big surprise in the EuroLeague, with 11-5 record. After being last year's last-place team they are clearly on a playoff course. Inhibited by quarantine breaks after a 4-0 start, the Russians have a remarkable skill besides their consistency: With eight wins in ten road games, they are clearly the best team on foreign soil. At Efes and Real Madrid, in Valencia or the previous week at Panathinaikos (89-77), St. Petersburg has amazed everywhere with strong defense and very structured offense.

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The first matchup of the Munich team in Russia just before Christmas is one of the few disappointments of the season so far (79-75), despite the FCBB dominating the game with a 60-48 lead before committing too many mistakes in the last twelve minutes for a valuable road win in the top division. Top scorer at that time was distance shooter Billy Baron (8.9 ppg). Zenit's best shooters are playmaker Kevin Pangos (11.6 ppg, 6.4 apg) and center Arturas Gudaitis (9.5 ppg). US forward Alex Poythress (9.3/4.9 rpg), on the other hand, is out injured.

The signature of the successful Spanish coach Xavi Pasqual, who won the EuroLeague ten years ago with Barcelona and took over for Zenit during the last season, is also showing its effect in the Eastern European VTB League. Zenit is even leading the league with a record of 10-1, ahead of EuroLeague champion ZSKA Moscow (9-2).


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