Zenit Saint Petersburg decimated Panathinaikos at home on Monday night (112-83) and sealed the last playoff place in the EuroLeague.
The Russians were unstoppable in the second half and outscored their opponents 65-43 to cruise to the victory.
Zenit finished eighth in the standings with a 20-14 record and will play in the EuroLeague playoffs for the first time ever. On the contrary, Panathinaikos dropped to 11-22 and still has one game remaining.
“I have to say congratulations to my players, to all the fans, to all the organization, my staff and assistants. I think we deserve to be [in the playoffs] for what we did until now. 2021 was a difficult year for us.
We started with so many injuries and step by step we recovered our shape for the last part of the competition, so I think we deserve to be where we are. We were working with this mentality all season.
It’s true that at the beginning of the season, nobody believed we could do something like that, but basketball is like this. The players worked all season in an amazing way. And now we have to enjoy the moment and continue,” Zenit head coach Xavi Pascual told reporters afterwards.
The EuroLeague Playoffs will tip off with the opening games in the four best-of-five quarterfinals series on Tuesday, April 20 and Wednesday, April 21.
On Tuesday, Anadolu Efes hosts Real Madrid for the start of their series. This will be the second time that these two teams meet in the EuroLeague playoffs (2014-2015).
Also on Tuesday, Armani Milano will face Bayern Munich, which will play in the EuroLeague postseason for the first time in its history.
Wednesday’s first game will be in Russia, where still defending champions CSKA Moscow will clash with Fenerbahce. This will be the first time that they face each other in the EuroLeague playoffs since 2005.
Last but not least, regular-season champion FC Barcelona will take on Zenit on Wednesday, with the head coach of the Russians, Xavi Pascual, facing his former team.