Required Viewing: December 15-16

Required Viewing: December 15-16

Six regular season games will be played on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday, December 15

Avtodor Russia – Zenit Russia

Time: 5:00 PM (4:00 MSK)
Place: Kristall Sports Palace, Saratov, Russia
TV: Match! Nash Sport,

Avtodor: After defeating Nizhny Novgorod in the Volga derby, Saratov moved into the coveted 8th spot in the standings, before crushing Kataja of Finland in the FIBA Europe Cup by 41 points. After the game, Dusan Alimpijevic said his team’s style of play made him even happier than the outcome. The competition gets harder on Saturday: Zenit is extremely motivated and enters with an 11-3 lead in the all-time series. 

Zenit: St. Petersburg won five straight before suffering a heartbreaking loss in the final seconds to UNICS. Zenit’s EuroCup game vs. Valencia also ended in defeat, which was not totally unexpected, considering Sergey Karasev and Evgeny Valiev were both out with injuries. Zenit’s offense on the road is a concern. The team averages 80.3 points per game away from home, which won’t be enough against the League’s second-best offense in Avtodor (88.9 points per game). 

Sunday, December 16

Enisey Russia – VEF Latvia

Time: 4:00 PM (12:00 MSK)
Place: Arena.Sever, Krasnoyarsk, Russia

Enisey: Even if Enisey is only two losses behind Avtodor for the final playoff spot, the team has already played 10 games and only has three wins to show for it. This team struggles to share the ball–ranking last in assists–which is not a good sign entering a key December match-up.

VEF: Enisey, though, at least ranks in the top 9 on offense. VEF, on the other hand, is the lowest-scoring team in the League by a wide margin (73 points per game). The Latvians were able to score 84 against Tsmoki-Minsk, but paid for it on the defensive end, which ultimately led to a defeat. 

Astana Kazakhstan – Kalev Estonia 

Time: 3:00 PM (12:00 MSK)
Place: SC Velotrek, Astana, Kazakhstan

Astana: The Kazakh club keeps springing upsets, defeating Lokomotiv last weekend to move into 4th place. Astana is not only undefeated on the road (4-0), but also the highest-scoring road team, ahead of even CSKA (91.8 points per game). The team’s performance at home leaves a little more to be desired, but two of the defeats were to CSKA and Khimki. Astana will expect to pick up its second home win of the season vs. Kalev.

Kalev: Tallinn is also on the rise, winning three of their last five to secure a spot in the top-8. The Arnett Moultrie signing should help the Estonians address one of their biggest deficiencies: poor rebounding. Tallinn outrebounded PARMA in its most recent outing, while Moultrie debuted with an impressive 16 points and nine rebounds. 

PARMA Russia – UNICS Russia

Time: 3:00 PM (1:00 MSK)
Place: Molot Sports Palace, Perm, Russia
TV: Match! Nash Sport,

PARMA: After losing to Kalev, PARMA dropped into a tie for 10th place with three other teams. The team’s poor start to the season may be attributed to a challenging schedule (six of eight games on the road). PARMA can look forward to a string of games at home in late winter, but for now the schedule remains daunting with match-ups vs. UNICS, Zenit and three more away games.

UNICS: Dimitris Priftis’ men celebrated another triumph after the important win over Zenit. By defeating Unicaja, Kazan clinched 1st place in its EuroCup group. Pierria Henry, who was limited early in the season by injury, enjoyed a breakout performance in the win over Unicaja, recording 19 points, six rebounds and eight assists. Kazan will be the undisputed favorite in Perm, and determined to keep the pressure on CSKA and Khimki with another win. 

Khimki Russia – Nizhny Novgorod Russia

Time: 3:00 PM (3:00 MSK)
Place: BCMO, Khimki, Russia
TV: Match! Nash Sport,

Khimki: The League’s two best teams and biggest rivals–CSKA and Khimki–met on Thursday, but in EuroLeague action, as CSKA came out on top. Within League competition, both teams are undefeated. Khimki once again played without its two biggest weapons on offense–Alexey Shved and Anthony Gill–which made playing one of Europe’s strongest defensive clubs no easy task. Nizhny Novgorod, however, is nowhere near the defensive juggernaut that CSKA is, which is why Khimki will be favored despite missing Shved and Gill. 

Nizhny Novgorod: Zoran Lukic was very upset about his team’s performance against Avtodor, calling it an “embarrassment.” Not surprisingly, Nizhny came out fired up for its game vs. Avellino in the Champions League, blowing out the Italian club by 21. Ivan Strebkov was the game MVP, scoring 29 points. Now Nizhny faces one of the United League’s top defenses: Khimki is the only team giving up less than 70 points per outing. 

Lokomotiv-Kuban Russia – Tsmoki-Minsk Belarus

Time: 4:00 PM (4:00 MSK)
Place: Basket Hall, Krasnodar, Russia

Lokomotiv-Kuban: After two unexpected defeats to Astana and Kalev, Krasnodar has dropped to 6th in the standings, a whopping four games back of 1st place. Vlada Jovanovic’s men learned from the Astana setback, picking up a tough road win over Cedevita. The victory came in Loko’s 100th EuroCup appearance.

Tsmoki-Minsk: Minsk has only defeated Lokomotiv once in 12 tries, breaking through last March. Of course, Minsk would like to build on its win over VEF last weekend, but it won’t be easy. The duel between dynamic scorers Stefan Moody and Dmitry Kulagin will be one to watch: Both guards lead their teams in scoring and assists.