Seven regular-season games will be played on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Saturday, November 10
Time: 3:00 PM (12:00 MSK)
Place: SC Velotrek, Astana, Kazakhstan
Astana: The Kazakhs have only won 25% of the meetings between these teams (3-9), but Astana looks like the favorite in this one. Emil Rajkovic’s men won three in a row, scoring 90-plus points in each outing, before losing a close game to Khimki. Astana is 5th in the standings and determined to stay there, especially knowing Nizhny’s injury concerns.
Nizhny Novgorod: It’s been a rough start to the season for the Volga club. Never-ending injuries have forced Zoran Lukic to play short-handed in every outing. Yes, Odom and Czerapowicz are back, but they need time to adjust to the team. Kendrick Perry and Vladimir Dragicevic, meanwhile, are still out. On the positive side, Nizhny brought in Darrin Govens from Tsmoki earlier this week and won comfortably vs. Le-Mans in the Champions League.
Time: 4:00 PM (12:00 MSK)
Place: Arena.Sever, Krasnoyarsk, Russia
Enisey: The Siberians have alternated wins and losses, cruising past Tsmoki before going down big to Zenit. Somewhat surprisingly, Enisey has been more effective on offense than UNICS, averaging 80.5 points per game compared to 79 for Kazan. The gap in defense, however, is huge. UNICS gives up 22 fewer points per game than Enisey!
UNICS: Dimitris Priftis’ squad travels to Krasnoyarsk in good spirits. Thanks to a comprehensive win over Mornar Bar, UNICS is the first team to qualify for the EuroCup Top 16. For Kazan’s opponents, the biggest challenge is not knowing who’s going to take over a given game: Errick McCollum torched Avtodor for 25 points, before Raymar Morgan dropped 22 on Mornar Bar.
Avtodor Russia – Tsmoki-Minsk Belarus
Time: 5:00 PM (4:00 MSK)
Place: Kristall Sports Palace, Saratov, Russia
Avtodor: Saratov has only lost to CSKA and UNICS this season, while easily disposing of opponents like Kalev and Enisey, scoring more than 100 in both contests. On the other hand, Avtodor’s most recent game vs. Ironia mid-week was a disaster as the Russian club lost 104-86. The game vs. Tallinn also exposed some of Avtodor’s defensive deficiencies. Despite winning handily, Saratov again gave up more than 100 points.
Tsmoki-Minsk: Tsmoki’s only win vs. Avtodor came in October 2016. All-time, Minsk is 1-7 vs. Saratov. The Dragons, though, can’t afford another loss on Saturday. Tsmoki opened the season with five straight losses, including a disastrous four-game homestand. Even the return of last year’s star Devon Saddler couldn’t help Minsk vs. PARMA. The team’s offense is clearly struggling with Tsmoki ranking last in assists at 13.2 per game.
Sunday, November 11
Time: 5:30 PM (5:30 MSK)
Place: Basket Hall, Krasnodar, Russia
TV: Match TV, VTB-League.com
Lokomotiv-Kuban: The setback vs. short-handed Kalev proved the final straw for Loko’s front office: Sasa Obradovic is out. Vlada Jovanovic will make his VTB League head coaching debut in the Game of the Week, after leading Krasnodar to a convincing win vs. Gdynsk in the EuroCup. Kuban has nearly played CSKA even over the past 10 games (6-4), and this game should also be competitive.
CSKA: The Army Men lead the League both in wins as well as numerous statistical categories, like scoring (96.4 per game), field-goal percentage and efficiency rating. Mikhail Kulagin has played with immense confidence since returning from injury. The young guard forced his way into the rotation, thanks to big performances (20 points vs. Avtodor), though he wasn’t nearly as effective vs. Olympiacos. CSKA defeated its biggest EuroLeague rival, but ran into plenty of problems on offense. Loko is likely to use the same approach of trying to restrict the paint vs. CSKA.
Time: 6:00 PM (6:00 MSK)
Place: Sibur Arena, St. Petersburg, Russia
Zenit: It’s difficult to know what to expect from St. Petersburg. After scoring a season-best 116 points in a win over Enisey, Zenit lost to Turk Telekom in the EuroCup. One of the stars from the win over Krasnoyarsk, Brandon Jennings, struggled big-time vs. the Turks, drawing criticism from Vasily Karasev, who called Jennings’ -27 +/- rating “unbelievable.” St. Petersburg won’t have it easy vs. PARMA’s athletic, speedy roster, especially when it comes to defending the point guard position.
PARMA: The Ural club snapped a three-game skid with a win over Tsmoki. But it’s too early to say PARMA has overcome its early-season slump. Even with Tsmoki’s significant issues on offense, Perm still managed to give up 83 points. Nikolajs Mazurs’ men need to keep St. Petersburg from pushing the pace too much, while ensuring crisp ball movement on their own end (Perm dished out 30 assists to nine turnovers in the win over Tsmoki).
Monday, November 12
Time: 8:00 PM (8:00 MSK)
Place: BCMO, Khimki, Russia
Khimki: Moscow Region is on the rise. Tied with CSKA for the best record in the League, Khimki finally secured its first win in the EuroLeague, defeating Gran Canaria. Alexey Shved was also named the United League October MVP, averaging 22.5 points and 8.3 assists per game. He hasn’t let up in November, dropping 28 and 24 points on Astana and Gran Canaria, respectively.
VEF: Despite a shocking all-time record vs. Khimki (2-18), VEF is capable of the occasional surprise. Last February, for example, Riga dealt Moscow Region a stunning upset at home, led by the trio of Perez, Janicenoks and Brown. Of the three, only Janicenoks is left on the roster, which means he’ll need some help from new signings like Vincent Council, who had a big game vs. UNICS. Either way, Khimki is the clear favorite entering the contest.
Tuesday, November 13
Time: 7:00 PM (8:00 MSK)
Place: Saku Suurhall, Tallinn, Estonia
Kalev: Tallinn is responsible for the biggest upset of the season, defeating Lokomotiv on the road and ultimately costing Sasa Obradovic his job. But Kalev has to move on quickly from its sensational achievement, needing a win at home to continue the momentum and move into the top-eight in the standings. The team also has injury concerns, defeating Lokomotiv despite playing without Kristjan Kangur, Tanel Sokk and primary offensive weapon Ivan Almeida.
Zielona Gora: The Poles have looked more and more comfortable with each passing week. After enjoying their first win at home a week ago, Zielona Gora moved into the playoff zone. The team’s biggest weakness so far appears to be rebounding, where they rank last in the League (31 per game). But Kalev, ranked second-to-last, is unlikely to take advantage. Three-point shooting has been the Poles’ biggest weapon, shooting at a League-best 44.7% clip, while taking nearly 24 attempts per game.