Game Of The Week: Battling For Positioning

Nymburk hosts Zenit St. Petersburg in the Game of the Week.

Nymburk, 2014-15 Czech champions
Zenit, 2014-15 VTB United League quarterfinalists

SC Nymburk, Nymburk, Czech Republic

4:00 PM (5:00 PM MSK), April 10, 2016

Match! Nash sport, TV Nova Sport (Czech Republic), United League TV

Face To Face
Nymburk and Zenit have played each other three times in the league with St. Petersburg coming out on top each time. The last meeting took place in March. The game was close until the 3rd quarter, when Zenit's frenetic tempo began to wear down a short-handed Nymburk, allowing Vasily Karasev's club to pull away for a 102-90 win.

First Encounter

Looking Back

The regular season is nearing the finish line and the battle for playoff positioning is beginning to heat up. Nymburk would likely prefer to avoid CSKA in the first round, but must finish ahead of Nizhny Novgorod in the standings. The two teams are currently tied for 7th at 16-11 and meet in the final game of the season. The Lions also take on Khimki following Sunday's game vs. Zenit. It's not going to be easy, but Nymburk hopes to get started right by picking up a win at home, where the club has enjoyed considerable success this season.

Zenit has five games left on the schedule with games against Lokomotiv-Kuban and UNICS still to come. While Nymburk is battling for 7th, the Blue-White-Sky Blues could finish anywhere from 3rd to 6th. Currently 4th, the team's goal is to finish in the top-four and earn home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason. In order to do so, however, Zenit needs a win in the Czech Republic.

Is Zenit ready?

Zenit has suffered from injuries more than almost any other team this season, forcing the club to revamp its roster several times. While the current injuries are not as serious, Janis Timma, Dmitry Golovin and Alexander Karpukhin were each unavailable for St. Petersburg's most recent game vs. Kalev and Anton Pushkov played with a temperature.

The Blue-White-Sky Blues also have a packed schedule, which Karasev referred to as "completely insane." It's hard not to agree with him: the team has been playing every three days, making for a ton of time on the road and few opportunities to practice. While Zenit outran Nymburk in the first meeting, Nymburk might be the ones pushing the tempo in this contest. It's not too far out of the question, especially given the Czech club's comfort level with running the fast break.

Michael Dixon (Nymburk) vs. Ryan Toolson (Zenit).

St. Petersburg's primary option on offense did more than just erupt for 29 points on 7-11 shooting when these teams met in March. He also dished out seven assists and enters Sunday's game in excellent form. Toolson recently scored 31 against Kalev, including a 6-7 performance from downtown to go with four assists.

Dixon put up 26 points on 62% shooting vs. Zenit and will be Nymburk's number one option against the St. Petersburg visitors. These two scoring machines are ready to go at it again in the Czech Republic.

Nymburk head coach Ronen Ginzburg:
- Zenit is one of the best teams in the VTB United League. St. Petersburg is very talented and dangerous under the basket and on the perimeter. In our first meeting, we were close to success, battling evenly for three quarters. I think we'll be able to win on our home court. Nymburk is battling for a better spot in the playoffs and this game is extremely important.

Zenit head coach Vasily Karasev:
- Nymburk is playing very well this season. Even the home game we won against them was tough. We didn't have a full rotation then  and Nymburk was missing several players. That's why we're prepared for a major test. We understand perfectly well how important a win would be. In addition, we need to get guys back from injury and sickness and help those who've played a lot recover. The schedule is completely insane. We've got games every three days with lots of travel. At times, you're more focused on helping players recover than you are in creating anything new.

- This game is very important to both teams, - says official VTB United League representative to the Euroleague, FIBA and other international organizations, Jiri Zidek. Nymburk is battling for 7th, while Zenit could still finish as high as 3rd. Nonetheless, even though the Czechs are not favored, they could very well win. They will have the home-court advantage and if the team gets hot from outside and runs in transition, they won't be easy to stop. It's important to use as many players as possible, in order to wear down the opponent.

In Zenit's favor is the team's experience, individual talent and size difference. Zabian Dowdell controls the game, while Toolson is the primary sniper. Newcomer Omar Thomas made the team stronger and Janis Timma is a genuine wild card for Zenit.
I expect a physical battle on Sunday and maximum concentration. That's the only way we can beat our opponent.