After a huge crisis of pandemic, EuroLeague season has officially started. All the teams had to face disadvantages caused by pandemic because they had been away from the courts for a long time. We can easily see that, the pace and flow of the games have changed a little bit. Some players were sick and some players were injured. But I’m sure that all teams will be catching up their optimum level of basketball week by week.
Efes and Zenit stepped onto the court for the first match of their EuroLeague journey. Zenit started the first quarter fast. Rivers found a 3 pts shot. Efes had 3 guards on the court. In first half of the quarter, Micic made Zenit get 3 fouls and took stock of mismatches very well. There was a good press by Efes and Zenit was unable to attack effectively. But the biggest problem for Efes was that they came up empty handed from outside shots. For more than one minute, both sides couldn’t make score, but the Gudaitis made effective attacks to the basket. Even he had had a big injury, he is still one of the strongest player in center position. The quarter finished with 10-15 score.
In second quarter, there was a good block from Gudaitis to stop Tolga. Tolga found Singleton in color zone but Zenit came for double press and Singleton lost control of the ball. Gudaitis made an offensive foul while screening. Beaubois got a beautiful 3 pts and pulled energy to the court. Pleiss stopped Gudaitis with foul on 1-1 and for next Efes offense, his 3 pts shot attempt was unsuccessful. Barron found an easy 2 pts by penetrating from end line. Beaubois made a strong defense, got the ball and penetrated through color zone without hesitation, making score.
Good screen defence came from Dunston. Fridzon contributed to score time to time. Pangos was effective with passes from end line after penetrating and with his own attacks to the basket. Micic went to the basket with a great determination, got the basket foul. Tolga used his physical advantage against Fridzon and passed to Dunston after reverse, Dunston finished but it wasn’t counted because of a foul from Zenit side. Efes’ free throws were also problematic. Moerman made good scores from corner and low post. The quarter finished with 26-26 score.
Beaubois got another 3 pts from corner with Micic’s assist after Simon’s. Hollins answered back with 3 pts after fake. Rivers got an offensive foul while trying to play at low post against Beaubois. Simon found two other 3 pts more and made a huge contribution to Efes. Pangos penetrated and caused a disturbance for Efes’ defense in color zone, then found Rivers outside for a successful 3 pts. Sertac tried to make score in color zone but got blocked by Gudaitis. Micic tried to use advantage of agility when he catched a mismatch with Gudaitis and made him get foul. Pangos made great 3 pts attempts with success twice against good defense of Efes. Micic and Sertac hit back with a double play. Pangos continued to penetrate inside and make score. Simon made a good press and got the control of the ball.
Zubkov found Gudaitis in color area and Sertac got his 4th foul. Zubkov also went to the basket himself against Simon’s defense. Micic used advantage of Zenit’s spacing and made 4 points more. The quarter finished with 54-49 score.
In the last quarter, Micic and Fridzon made 2 pts reciprocally. Zubkov stole the ball from Pleiss and went for a dunk. Micic tried to get inside himself but no result came out. During Zenit offense, Pleiss got the ball after a bad pass. There was a good pass traffic between Simon – Micic and Singleton but a foul came out from Zenit side. Double play of Micic and Pleiss got the score and there was a foul sign referring Ponitka. Rivers made 2 pts with a backdoor run. Simon found a hard 2 pts but Rivers responded immediately with 1-1 play. Pangos also showed himself with another 3 pts.
Poythress and Beaubois made offensive foul one after another. Micic got 4th foul after Pangos’ penetration. Pangos saw Poythress’ run and Poythress finished with a dunk. There was 0-8 run after his score. Moerman came back with a 2 pts turning to the basket from low post but Pangos found a free zone to penetrate, finishing with lay-up. A beautiful alley-oop came from Pangos – Poythress double play. There was a moment that all attacks from both sides were resultless before last points of the match. The match finished with 69-73 score and Zenit got the first win of the season.
Even Edes made a great defense throughout the match, they couldn’t get result from outside shots time to time. Beaubois and Simon tried to cover with great 3 pts shots but it wasn’t enough. Gudaitis was one of my favourite players on the court with run to the basket at right moments. Micic proved himself one more time with great penetrations, great assists. Pangos was on fire with outside shots and penetrations. Dunston, Moerman and Sertac made contributions on Efes side while Poythress, Rivers and Fridzon made it on Zenit side. Singleton and Thomas were effective with rebounds on the court. Effects of pandemic crisis can be see on play and statistics of teams but I’m sure they will get over it with more match experiences and comeback of other players. Then the real basketball standards of teams will show up.