Six seeds and one playoff spot are up for grabs on the final day of the regular season.
Saturday, May 12
Time: 4:00 PM (12:00 MSK)
Place: Arena.Sever, Krasnoyarsk, Russia
Enisey: The Siberians were eliminated from postseason contention a week ago, but could go out with a bang in front of the home fans, especially with Khimki looking vulnerable in recent outings. Krasnoyarsk will also be motivated by its 30-point loss to Moscow Region earlier in the season, and would like to give head coach Oleg Okulov a nice birthday gift. The team will likely be led by Zabian Dowdell, who’s been unstoppable recently driving to the hoop.
Khimki: Khimki is guaranteed to finish 6th with a loss, which would set up an entertaining first round series between Georgios Bartzokas and Lokomotiv. Khimki has only lost once in 10 meetings to Enisey, way back in 2015. These two teams are both coming off setbacks to Lokomotiv, though Moscow Region was able to keep the score closer, at least in the 4th quarter. This game could come down to motivation and what kind of roster Bartzokas puts out in Krasnoyarsk.
Time: 3:00 PM (12:00 MSK)
Place: Velotrek, Astana, Kazakhstan
Astana: The moment of truth has arrived for Astana. The Kazakh club could still make the postseason, but it needs two things to happen: Zenit needs to take down Tsmoki-Minsk in St. Petersburg and Astana needs to beat Avtodor. Thanks to Anton Ponomarev’s bucket at the end of the game between VEF and Astana, the Kazakhs hold the tiebreaker vs. Riga.
Avtodor: Saratov is very likely to finish in 5th place. But a win in Kazakhstan would clinch, regardless of the outcome in theKhimki – Enisey game. Evgeny Pashutin laid out his team’s objectives in this game: Move the ball on offense and win the battle on the glass, which is easier said than done. Astana ranks 3rd in rebounding (36.4 per game), led by big man Ike Udanoh.
Time: 5:30 PM (3:30 MSK)
Place: Molot Sports Palace, Perm, Russia
TV: Match! Nash Sport, VTB-League.com
PARMA: After Nizhny Novgorod’s win on Wednesday, Perm was officially eliminated from the playoff race. But the season isn’t over. PARMA could still determine who finishes in 1st place. UNICS closed out the season with a 22-2 record and now CSKA needs a victory at the Molot Sports Palace to pip Kazan for the League’s top seed.
CSKA: The Army Men want to finish in 1st place. All they need is a win in Perm, thanks to a superior head-to-head record vs. UNICS. But they shouldn’t expect a free pass on Saturday. Ever since the Ural-Great era, Moscow and Perm have been bitter rivals. The Siberian club will do everything it can to reward a sold-out Molot with a win. PARMA created serious issues for CSKA in the first meeting of the season, scoring 94 points. If not for a big game from Nando De Colo (34 points), Perm may have pulled the upset.
Time: 6:00 PM (6:00 MSK)
Place: Sports Palace, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Nizhny Novgorod: Nizhny clinched a spot in the postseason by taking down Avtodor on Wednesday. Now the focus turns to the playoffs with a warm-up game vs. Lokomotiv-Kuban. Zoran Lukic’s men could still drop to 8th place with a loss and a Tsmoki-Minsk victory, so winning on Saturday might help avoid a potential match-up with CSKA in the first round and give the team a nice boost of confidence.
Lokomotiv-Kuban: Beating Krasnodar won’t be easy. Kuban dominated Khimki on the road earlier in the week and Loko enjoys an 8-3 edge in the all-time series between these two teams. In fact, it’s been two years since Nizhny was able to defeat the Railwaymen. But with Lokomotiv locked into the #3 seed, it’s possible Sasa Obradovic will rest his starters and give extra playing time to the reserves.
Time: 6:00 PM (6:00 MSK)
Place: Yubileyny Sports Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia
Zenit: St. Petersburg is playing for pride vs. Minsk, having already clinched the #4 seed. But it’s also a final chance to prepare for the postseason. Vasily Karasev may or may not use his strongest roster against the Belarusians. Zenit struggled to stay fresh in the second half vs. CSKA and UNICS and he may want to give his stars some extra rest.
Tsmoki-Minsk: The Dragons, on the other hand, need a win to make the playoffs. Because VEF has the tiebreaker, Tsmoki needs a win to stay in front of the Latvians in the standings. This is a tough game to predict, especially since St. Petersburg barely escaped in the first meeting of the season (82-81).