Required Viewing: March 15-17

Required Viewing: March 15-17

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

Friday, March 15

PARMA Russia – Enisey Russia

Time: 7:00 PM (5:00 MSK)
Place: Molot Sports Palace, Perm, Russia

PARMA: Perm was on the verge of securing a win vs. VEF and snapping its losing streak, but watched it slip away in the final seconds for a 10th-consecutive defeat. The loss more or less erased PARMA’s playoff chances. Even if the club wins out–an unlikely scenario with games remaining vs. Astana, UNICS and Khimki–it would only have 10 victories, which probably won’t be enough.

Enisey: The Siberians could still compete for a spot in the top eight, but Friday’s game is virtually a must-win. Enisey won the first meeting of the season and Michael Humphrey and Kodi Justice, who starred for PARMA in that game, have since moved on to Zielona Gora. DeAngelo Harrison, meanwhile, who led Krasnoyarsk to the victory with 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists, continues to be one of Enisey’s most important contributors. 

Saturday, March 16

Lokomotiv-Kuban Russia – UNICS Russia

Time: 2:30 PM (2:30 MSK)
Place: Basket Hall, Krasnodar, Russia
TV: Match TV,

Lokomotiv-Kuban: This will be the fourth meeting between Lokomotiv and UNICS in the past 10 days, with three coming in a high-stakes EuroCup quarterfinal series. Kuban ultimately came up short, staying alive in Game 2 behind a dazzling performance from Dmitry Kulagin (26 points), before losing a tight Game 3 on the road. Now Lokomotiv will try to bounce back at home, where they can catch UNICS in the win column with a victory. 

UNICS: Prior to the EuroCup showdown, much of the analysis centered on the duel between explosive scorers Dmitry Kulagin and Errick McCollum. Games 1 and 2 lived up to expectations. McCollum got going with 32 points in Game 1, before Kulagin answered with 26 in Game 2. Both teams were more deliberate in Game 3 and looked to shut down the two stars, which opened the door for veteran Kostas Kaimakoglou (averaging only 2.6 points per game in the United League) to steal the spotlight for Kazan. The first League match-up between these teams, it should be noted, featured McCollum’s first break-out performance as he scored 11 points down the stretch to give UNICS a win. 

Zielona Gora Poland – Zenit Russia

Time: 6:00 PM (8:00 MSK)
Place: CRS Hala Zielona Gora, Zielona Gora, Poland

Zielona Gora: Despite playing at home, the Poles will be underdogs. Zielona Gora is last in the League in scoring (75.1 points per game) and second-last in rebounds (32.4) and faces Zenit, which ranks 3rd and 2nd, respectively, in those categories. In the first meeting between these teams, Zenit was able to dominate the paint thanks to Jalen Reynolds. This time around, Michael Humphrey will try to slow down St. Petersburg’s explosive MVP candidate. 

Zenit: A convincing win over Avtodor allowed St. Petersburg to snap its two-game skid and keep 2nd-5th place within reach. Jalen Reynolds was magnificent once again vs. Saratov and looks eager to add to his trophy case after winning the January MVP. He’s averaging 26.2 points over Zenit’s last four games.

Sunday, March 17

Astana Kazakhstan – Tsmoki-Minsk Belarus

Time: 8:00 PM (5:00 MSK)
Place: SC Velotrek, Astana, Kazakhstan

Astana: After piling up five straight wins, Astana suffered its biggest loss of the season in Tallinn, falling by 28 to Kalev. The home team will try to prove against Minsk that the setback was an aberration. Astana is certainly the favorite on Sunday, averaging 10 points more per game than its opponent (86.1 vs. 76.1). 

Tsmoki-Minsk: The first meeting was highlighted by an entertaining shootout between Kazakh guard Anthony Clemmons and Belarusian guard Darrin Govens (23 and 21 points, respectively). Despite Govens’ best efforts, Astana’s superior depth in the starting lineup decided the outcome, outscoring Tsmoki’s starters 62-43. Govens has since left the club, whereas Clemmons continues to impress in Astana, most recently scoring a team-high 18 in the loss to Kalev. Rostislav Vergun and co. will have a tough time figuring out how to slow him down. 

VEF Latvia – Avtodor Russia

Time: 5:00 PM (6:00 MSK)
Place: Arena Riga, Riga, Latvia

VEF: Signing Glenn Cosey has been one of the key factors in VEF’s late-winter turnaround and surprising four-game winning streak. Cosey was the leading scorer vs. PARMA and hit the decisive 3-pointer down the stretch. Given that defense is not Avtodor’s biggest strength, the Riga sniper will likely have plenty of room to operate beyond the arc. No one would be surprised if he surpasses his personal best of 21 points vs. Saratov. The stakes are huge: With a win, Riga can secure the tiebreaker vs. Avtodor and become a legitimate threat to finish in 8th place.

Avtodor: Saratov gave up 100 or more points for the 8th time this season vs. Zenit. If that continues, Avtodor could become the only team in the League allowing more than 94 points per game (currently 93.8). The first game vs. VEF was Dusan Alimpijevic’s debut and Saratov allowed only 85 points but still managed to lose by two. On Sunday, Avtodor will be coached by Evgeny Pashutin, who will try to slow down VEF with the Russian club’s playoff hopes hanging in the balance. 

Kalev Estonia – Khimki Russia

Time: 5:00 PM (6:00 MSK)
Place: Kalevi Spordihall, Tallinn, Estonia

Kalev: Over its previous four games, Kalev has lost only once to regain 8th place. The team is scoring a League-high 107 points per game during the stretch. Arnett Moultrie has been one of the biggest reasons for Tallinn’s surge, averaging 23.2 points per game. He’s been the leading scorer in each of the victories. Kalev’s frontcourt could pose a lot of problems for Khimki. Moscow Region had to work to defeat Kalev in the first meeting (leading by only four points with a minute to go) and that was with a much healthier roster. Moultrie was also not playing for Kalev at the time.

Khimki: Khimki played Real Madrid in the EuroLeague on Thursday and only has two days to prepare for the visit to the Estonian capital. Moscow Region has shown signs of improvement in recent weeks, taking down CSKA, despite playing without Jordan Mickey, before adding several reinforcements in free agency. Former NBA player Andrew Harrison is expected to join the team shortly, while Khimki also secured Janis Timma on a loan, the League’s Young Player of the Year in 2014-15. That’s not all: The club also brought back Khimki fan favorite and veteran big man Dmitry Sokolov to strengthen the frontcourt down the stretch.