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July 25, 2013

Zanna's double-double leads PGT to championship

The annual City Game won't happen for another five months, but if Wednesday's summer league championship game is any indication, the Pitt-Duquesne contest will be physical.

Extremely physical.

Third-seeded PGT defeated No. 4 seed The Lair, 108-101, in the 2013 Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am summer league championship at the Green Tree SportsPlex Wednesday night in a game marked by 63 total foul shots, four technical fouls and even an on-court, benches-clearing scuffle.

PGT - comprised of mostly Pitt players - and The Lair - made up of mostly Duquesne players - proved there's no love lost between the two teams. However, they all knew what to expect when stepping on the court.

"It's good competition," Pitt forward Talib Zanna said. "We always know because we play them every year. We always know what we're going to face. They've been talking a lot of crap over the summer. I was just trying to get the young guys into it, so they'll have the feeling before we play them this season."

Zanna, no stranger to physical play on the block this summer, found himself in the middle of the action during the second half.

With just under nine minutes remaining in the game, Zanna grabbed a miss by PGT guard James Robinson. As the Pitt fifth-year senior went back up with the ball, The Lair's Ovie Soko came over the top with a hard foul.

Zanna took exception to the contact and got in the face of Soko, which cleared the benches as the players were separated. Both Zanna and Soko drew technical fouls on the play, but there were no hard feelings following the fracas.

"We knew it was going to be competitive after they (The Lair) beat the alumni team [Tuesday]," Robinson said of the game's physical nature. "It's a very talented group of guys mostly from Duquesne. We respect everything they do.

"We know every time we step on the floor whether it be here, at their gym or at our gym, it's going to be competitive. It's a lot of fun. There's no hard feelings. Everyone's out there competing. At the end of the day, everyone can depend on each other."

Even with the scuffle, Zanna still showed why he's been the best player on the court all summer.

The Pitt redshirt senior scored 37 points and grabbed 16 rebounds - including 11 in the second half - to lead PGT to the championship. Zanna, who was named the league most valuable player, recorded a double-double in every game of the summer.

"It means a lot," Zanna said of winning the most valuable player award. "I've been trying to get ready for the ACC. I've been working hard, put in a lot of time and just keep learning."

Robinson added 24 points, eight assists and five rebounds in the win. His team also benefited from two incoming Pitt freshmen, filling in for a short-handed PGT squad.

Mike Young recorded a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds, and he netted a pair of key baskets in the game's waning moments. Jamel Artis chipped in 14 points and converted a crucial and-one situation late in the contest.

"For me and Talib, we all knew what they could do," Robinson said. "I've known Jamel for awhile. I've seen Mike play for a couple years now. We know how talented they are. That's just a little preview of some of the things that they'll be bringing to us during the season."

Down 96-95 with just over two minutes left, Zanna made a steal and heaved a down-court pass to Young for a dunk to put PGT up one. On the next possession, Robinson stripped Duquesne's Jeremiah Jones on his drive to the hoop, which resulted in an easy bucket for Zanna in transition.

After Artis converted an and-one that put PGT up 102-98, Soko took a quick, ill-advised three-pointer at the other end that was well off the mark. PGT pushed the ball after snatching the rebound, and Artis found Zanna under the basket for an layup that sealed the game.

"Talib is definitely one of the - if not the - hardest worker on the team on our team by far," Robinson said. "Everything he brings to the table from leadership, effort, you just can't teach that. That's why he's so valuable to our team...

"Even last year, when people said he was going through his slump, he was in the gym almost 24-7, just working on his game, getting better. He went about his business this summer similarly and look for a big year, complete year for him."

Final Boxscore
PGT 108, The Lair 101

The Lair -- 57-44--101
PGT -- 55-53--108

The Lair
Ovie Soko - 20 points, 7 rebounds, 8/16 FG, 0/4 3-pt FG, 4/6 FT
Jeremiah Jones - 28 points, 3 assists, 9/15 FG, 5/10 3-pt FG, 5/6 FT
Desmond Ridenour - 8 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1/7 FG, 1/4 3-pt FG, 5/5 FT
L.G. Gill - 15 points, 1 rebounds, 6/8 FG, 1/2 3-pt FG, 2/4 FT
Devin Williams - 14 points, 12 rebounds, 5/10 FG, 4/5 FT
Tra'Vaughn White - 13 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 4/6 FG, 1/2 3-pt FG, 4/6 FT
Chase Connors - 3 points, 1/2 3-pt FG

Talib Zanna - 37 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists, 12/21 FG, 1/3 3-pt FG, 12/14 FT
James Robinson - 24 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, 9/20 FG, 1/4 3-pt FG, 5/9 FT
Mike Young - 23 points, 10 rebounds, 8/15 FG, 2/3 3-pt FG, 5/5 FT
Jamel Artis - 14 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 6/10 FG, 1/1 3-pt FG, 1/1 FT
Tyler Warford - 6 points, 4 assists, 2/5 FG, 0/1 3-pt FG, 2/2 FT
Luke Kochka - 4 points, 2/4 FG

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