Required Viewing: November 17-19

Required Viewing: November 17-19

Seven regular season games are scheduled for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. 

Saturday, November 17

UNICS Russia – Nizhny Novgorod Russia

Time: 5:00 PM (5:00 MSK)
Place: Basket Hall, Kazan, Russia
TV: Match! Nash Sport,

UNICS: Kazan has a commanding lead in the all-time series with Nizhny Novgorod: 16-3. On Saturday, UNICS will once again be favored. Zoran Lukic’s squad has struggled to get going this season, while the home team is a threat to win both the EuroCup and the VTB League. Errick McCollum has been picking up steam in recent games, dropping 26 points on Wednesday to lead UNICS past Lietuvos Rytas in European competition. 

Nizhny Novgorod: Known for lightning-quick offense, Nizhny has been limited on the attack this season, ranking 2nd-worst in points per game (fewer than 80), three-point shooting (31.9%) and free-throw percentage. But recent results have been encouraging–Nizhny has won three in a row entering the weekend, including Champions League play. 

Sunday, November 18

Enisey Russia – Zielona Gora Poland

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

Enisey: Like their opponent on Sunday, Enisey has two wins, but sits 12th in the standings with two more losses. These two teams have roughly similar stats, making it difficult to name a favorite. Perimeter defense may be Enisey’s biggest concern. Zielona Gora enters the game with the 3rd-best three-point percentage in the League (43.2%).

Zielona Gora: The Poles were very close to picking up a 3rd win, but let a six-point lead slip away late in Tallinn. The League newcomers will try to bounce back in Krasnoyarsk. Zielona Gora is very dangerous from outside, which could be the x-factor, considering Enisey’s struggles on the perimeter. For example, Krasnoyarsk gave up 48% shooting to UNICS in its previous outing.

Khimki Russia – Avtodor Russia

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

Khimki: Georgios Bartzokas and co. host Saratov only three days after a grueling trip to Spain, where the team lost a heartbreaker to Real Madrid. Bartzokas was pleased with the defense, but Khimki will have little time to recover from the trip and prepare for Sunday’s game. Given Avtodor’s propensity for pushing the tempo, fatigue could be a factor for the home team. 

Avtodor: Saratov is playing its first game in the United League under head coach Vladimir Antsiferov. He debuted earlier this week in a FIBA Cup win over Padrubice, leading Avtodor to a competition-record 129 points in the victory. The trio of Buford, Kravish and Golden dominated, combining for nearly 80 points. Avtodor, by the way, won the most recent meeting between these teams last May, bumping Khimki to 6th in the standings in the process. 

Lokomotiv-Kuban Russia – PARMA Russia

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

Lokomotiv-Kuban: After two consecutive losses, including a shock setback to Kalev, the Railwaymen broke through with a win over Limoges in the EuroCup. With six victories in the competition, Kuban has already clinched a spot in the Top 16 and can focus on the VTB League. The club is 5th in the standings and already trails 1st-place CSKA and Khimki by three and a half games. The home game vs. PARMA is a must-win for Krasnodar in every sense of the word. 

PARMA: Nikolajs Mazurs’ men are not ranked in the top-8, but one win would change that. It won’t be easy. Lokomotiv is desperate for a victory in the League, while PARMA has struggled against good defensive teams this season. In its four losses, Perm has only scored more than 80 points once, in a blowout defeat to CSKA when the outcome of the game was never in doubt. 

CSKA Russia – Tsmoki-Minsk Belarus

Time: 5:00 PM (5:00 MSK)
Place: USH CSKA, Moscow, Russia

CSKA: On Friday, November 16, CSKA plays Bayern in the EuroLeague (Andrey Vorontsevich could set the club record for EuroLeague appearances in the game). Two days later, the Red and Blue host the Minsk Dragons. CSKA is the overwhelming favorite despite the quick turnaround. Tsmoki, after all, has never defeated the Army Men in 16 tries. Joel Bolomboy could make his debut on Sunday now that he has a Russian passport. 

Tsmoki-Minsk: The Belarusians are sitting in 13th place with games vs. UNICS and Loko looming, in addition to Sunday’s match-up in Moscow. Tsmoki, however, did finally pick up a win last week, knocking off Avtodor on the road to improve to 1-5. 

Zenit Russia – Kalev Estonia

Time: 6:00 PM (6:00 MSK)
Place: SIBUR Arena, St. Petersburg, Russia

Zenit: St. Petersburg has made strides in recent weeks after losing twice to begin the season. Known for exciting, up-tempo offense, Zenit used defense to put away PARMA and down the stretch vs. Partizan in the EuroCup. Sergey Karasev has been on fire, leading his team in scoring in both games and hitting several clutch shots vs. the Serbs. 

Kalev: After stunning Lokomotiv on the road, Kalev picked up another victory at home over Zielona Gora. Tallinn has moved into the top half of the standings and boasts the same number of wins as Zenit. Of course, Kalev will still be the underdog on Sunday and enters the game with an 0-8 record all-time vs. Zenit. Tallinn is still trying to get healthy with the team’s leading scorer, Ivan Almeida, missing both wins. 

Monday, November 19

VEF Latvia – Astana Kazakhstan

Time: 7:30 PM (8:30 MSK)
Place: Olimpic Sport Center, Riga, Latvia

VEF: VEF takes on Astana in the final game of Week 7. The Latvians are in last place with a 1-6 record. Putrid offense has been the primary cause of VEF’s struggles: Riga ranks last in points per game (70), field-goal percentage and efficiency rating; second-to-last in free-throw percentage; and first in turnovers per game (15.7). The Latvians also scored a season-low 51 points in a loss to Khimki last week. But the team has signed several new players, who will try to turn the season around.

Astana: After a promising start, Emil Rajkovic’s men have lost two in a row, though the club remains in line for a playoff bid. Monday’s game vs. last-place VEF is an excellent chance to improve those odds. Despite the recent setbacks, Astana is playing well, giving Khimki and Nizhny all they could handle.

Astana has won both of its road games this season, while averaging 92 points per contest, which is more than the Kazakhs score at home.