Bayern celebrates their fifth EuroLeague victory
The basketball players of FC Bayern Munich have found their way back to a successful road in the EuroLeague with a 77-69 win over Zenit St. Petersburg. 5,197 spectators in the Audi Dome saw rough start to the game before the hosts picked up their defense and had a great third quarter. Five Munich players scored in double figures and Josh Huestis played his first game for FC Bayern after an injury break of almost three months. Co-Captain Vladimir Lucic was Bayern's most top scorer with 17 points.
Next Wednesday (18.12., 20:00 CET) the Munich team will play the first EuroLeague German Rivalry game against Alba Berlin. The following Friday (20.12., 20:30 CET) will see coach Svetislav Pesic (2014 champion) and his former final MVP Malcolm Delaney again, when they play in the Audi Dome against title favorites, FC Barcelona.
Points per quarter Bayern - Zenit: 14-15, 23-20, 24-15, 16-19.
Facts & Figures - Two-point shooting: 54% (FCBB) // 45% (St. Petersburg); Three-point shooting: 57% // 27%; Rebounds: 33 // 33; Assists: 16 // 12; Turnovers: 16 // 12 - Injuries: TJ Bray (post-foot surgery), Nihad Djedovic (post-foot surgery training) and Leon Radosevic (ligament injury).
FCBB stats: Vladimir Lucic (17 points/3 threes), Greg Monroe (12/5 rebounds), Petteri Koponen (11/3 threes), Maodo Lo (11/7 assists), Diego Flaccadori (11), DeMarcus Nelson (5), Mathias Lessort (5), Danilo Barthel (3), Paul Zipser (2), Alex King, Joshua Huestis and Sasha Grant (dnp).
FCBB head coach, Dejan Radonjic: "I am very satisfied today. We played with energy and focus, our defense was very good. At the beginning we had some difficulties on offense with turnovers and rebounds but it went much better in the second half. After the half we came out of the locke room well. After almost three months and only two training sessions with the first team, Josh Huestis was back today. I'm happy about that, but like with Nihad and Leon, we have to keep moving forward step by step."
Joan Plaza, head coach of St. Petersburg: "Even though both teams won two quarters each today, we have to admit that we had a bad evening, especially concerning our three-point shots. Our percentages were catastrophic. Three of our important players hit three of 24 shots from beyond the arc today, that says it all. But almost all were good shots and I told my players in the break that I would put them on the bench if they didn't shoot. It was just a tough evening for us. Our inside game wasn't good today because of several things. Bavaria won because they deserved it more than we did."
Vladimir Lucic (Player of the game): "We started a bit slow, but I think we did a good job defensively. That was a very important victory for us and now we have to use the momentum for the other games. Some of the injured havecome back and that helps us. In Berlin we have to score points and finally land a road win in the EuroLeague."
Maodo Lo: "That was an extremely important victory today. Now against Alba we know what awaits us: a fast, talented team. But for us only a road win counts."
FCBB coach Dejan Radonjic initially bet on Maodo Lo, Petteri Koponen, Vladimir Lucic, Danilo Barthel and Mathias Lessort. The game started ugly on both sides, and the fans had to wait two minutes before the first bucket. A three-point play from Lo came just in time to bring the FCBB to a 7-1 lead with five minutes having been played. The Munich team's choice of shots was anything but optimal and after seven minutes and an 8-0 run the Russians took the lead - time-out Bayern. The Germans stayed at it but ended up being behind by one at the first break, 15-14.
Radonjic brought in the long injured Josh Huestis for the first time, but the Bavarians were far from finding their rhythm. Fortunately, St. Petersburg also had its trouble and the score remained balanced at 20-20. Diego Flaccadori had a good day and scored seven points in this quarter. Vladimir Lucic dunked the ball after a spectacular Huestis block and this forced a time-out for the visitors. The fans got to their feet with a perfectly timed alley oop by Lessort to take a four-point lead at 29-25. The German champions tried hard but couldn't buy a basket in the second quarter. Paul Zipser got to the basket and scored what should have been the last points of the first half because there were only three seconds left on the clock but Munich made a mistake and let their former player Alex Renfroe drill a shot from half-court at he buzzer.
Bayern started into the second half with much more vigour and a Lucic three-pointer took a 45-38 lead. Two free-throws by Monroe brought a double-digit lead for the first time which was gladly aklowledged by the home fans.Two quick threes brought Zenit again threateningly near and Radonjic asked for a time-out with a score of 53-47. Lucic answered directly after the time-out with a three and Koponen took the lead to twelve points with another basket. At the end of the third quarter Munich was ahead by eleven.
The defense of the FCBB was finally in good form and the offense was also along for the ride. Munich now had the guests under control but at the high level of the EuroLeague you can never be too sure. Zenit was suddenly dangerous from beyond the arc but Bayern didn't back down and Flaccadori scored important points for a 72-61 lead. Out of nowhere, the Germans struggled to reboud and a time-out was a good idea. Luckily, calm was restored and they wrapped up their fifth victory in the EuroLeague with relative ease.
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Photo credit: Stickel, Rauchensteiner, Eirch