Seven regular season games are scheduled for Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Friday, December 7
Time: 6:00 PM (7:00 MSK)
Place: Kalevi Spordihall, Tallinn, Estonia
Kalev: Tallinn cracked the top eight with a pair of wins in November. But there’s plenty of work left to do. If Kalev loses to PARMA on Friday, the two teams would have an identical number of wins (3). Rebounding has been a concern for Kalev, which does not bode well against Perm, which ranks 2nd in the League in rebounds per game. Tallinn is trying to fix the problem, signing big man Arnett Moultrie, who’s spent time in the NBA with the Sixers.
PARMA: Nikolajs Mazurs’ squad has dropped to 12th place in the standings, but can blame a daunting schedule for the slow start. Including Friday, PARMA will have played six of its first eight games on the road. The team has also already faced four of the League’s top five teams: Khimki, CSKA, Zenit and Lokomotiv.
Time: 7:00 PM (7:00 MSK)
Place: Sports Palace, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
TV: Match! Nash Sport, VTB-League.com
Nizhny Novgorod: Nizhny Novgorod has yet to win at home, losing both of its games so far in the Sports Palace. Zoran Lukic’s men will try to change that in the Volga derby. It won’t be easy. After putting together a small winning streak, the team has suffered back-to-back losses to UNICS and Ludwigsburg. The team continues to be hampered by injuries, which has adversely affected the offense. Nizhny ranks second-last in points per game in the League (76.1 per game).
Avtodor: Saratov doesn’t struggle to score the ball, putting up 87.6 points per outing. But the offense has not converted into wins. Avtodor went 0-4 in November, while surrendering nearly 95 points per game. It’s not to easy to pick a favorite in this one. The two teams are relatively even with Saratov ranking above Nizhny in the standings thanks to a tiebreaker.
Saturday, December 8
Time: 5:00 PM (5:00 MSK)
Place: SIBUR Arena, St. Petersburg, Russia
TV: Match! Nash Sport, VTB-League.com
Zenit: St. Petersburg overcame a slow start to the season, stringing together five consecutive wins to move back into 4th place in the standings. Zenit has yet to lose at home, winning by an average of 17 points per game (2nd behind CSKA’s +24). Without questions, the biggest news of the week in St. Petersburg was the arrival of Mr. Triple-Double Codi Miller-McIntyre, who will add speed and athleticism to Zenit’s backcourt.
UNICS: Kazan has also been busy, signing Jackie Carmichael, who began the season with Avtodor and put up 14 points and six rebounds in his lone appearance with Saratov (ironically, vs. UNICS). Dimitris Priftis will likely try to put the clamps on Zenit’s offense, while attacking from beyond the arc: Defense and 3-pointer shooting have been the key for UNICS this season (the team shoots a League-best 44.8% from deep).
Time: 5:30 PM (5:30 MSK)
Place: Falcon Club, Minsk, Belarus
Tsmoki-Minsk: This a match-up between the League’s two worst teams, at least as far as the standings are concerned. VEF has one more win than Minsk, but has also played two more games. Minsk suffered a big loss with the departure of D.J. Shelton, who signed with Banvit in Turkey. He was one of the leading scorers and a terrific rebounder, which does not bode well for Sunday’s game.
VEF: Riga will likely try to take advantage. Tsmoki ranks 13th in rebounds per game, while VEF is 1st in offensive boards (12.3 per game). Though the League’s lowest-scoring team at 71.8 ppg, Riga has shown improvement. The Latvians dished out 26 assists in a win over Avtodor, while point guard Jabril Durham nearly recorded a triple-double, posting seven points, eight rebounds, 11 assists and three steals.
Sunday, December 9
Time: 4:00 PM (4:00 MSK)
Place: Basket Hall, Krasnodar, Russia
Lokomotiv-Kuban: Vlada Jovanovic had the interim tag removed this week, signing a contract with Loko through the end of the season. Including Eurocup competition, the Railwaymen have won four in a row, with Jovanovic’s only loss coming to CSKA. Kuban will try to keep its streak going against Astana. Krasnodar has not lost to the Kazakh club since 2014.
Astana: Krasnodar is not, however, an overwhelming favorite in this game. Despite its recent success, Lokomotiv has not lived up to expectations quite yet. Astana, meanwhile, has been one of the biggest surprises and trails Krasnodar by only one win in the standings. The Kazakhs also play well on the road, posting a perfect 3-0 record with 92.3 points per game scored.
Time: 6:00 PM (8:00 MSK)
Place: CRS Hala Zielona Gora, Zielona Gora, Poland
Zielona Gora: After a decent start, the Poles have dropped three in a row (including a surprising blowout loss to Enisey, which nearly set a club record for points). Now Zielona Gora faces a daunting task, hosting undefeated Khimki on Sunday evening. The home team will be heavy underdogs, trailing the Russian club in nearly every statistical category except three-point shooting.
Khimki: Moscow Region took advantage of the pause in the United League schedule, defeating Panathinaikos in the EuroLeague. The win was especially impressive, considering Khimki played without its leader Alexey Shved and had to face the Euroleague’s assists leader, Nick Calathes, and the lethal Keith Langford, who’s spent many years playing in Russia. Khimki’s defense was nearly perfect in the game, shutting down Pao’s backcourt and allowing only 68 points. Expect another strong defensive effort in Poland.
Monday, December 10
Time: 7:30 PM (7:30 MSK)
Place: USH CSKA, Moscow, Russia
CSKA: The Army Men enjoyed a big week in the EuroLeague, securing a dramatic win on the road vs. Real Madrid to take sole possession of 1st place. There was good news on the United League front, too: Nando De Colo was named November MVP. The Frenchman was ridiculously accurate from beyond the arc last month, knocking down 12 of 13 attempts.
Enisey: The Siberians are facing a League contender for the second game in a row. Krasnoyarsk put up a fight vs. Lokomotiv-Kuban, but struggled to contain Dmitry Kulagin. Enisey has not had any luck in the past vs. CSKA (0-13 all-time) and surrenders an average of 98.3 points per game away from home, which does not bode well for Monday.