Required Viewing: November 3-5

Required Viewing: November 3-5

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

Saturday, November 3

PARMA Russia – Tsmoki-Minsk Belarus

Time: 5:30 PM (3:30 MSK)
Place: Molot Sports Palace, Perm, Russia

PARMA: After two losses to Enisey and Khimki, Ural badly needs a win in front of the home crowd. Nikolajs Mazurs’ squad has had plenty of time to recover and prepare for Tsmoki. This game has major playoff implications and PARMA will be at full strength on Saturday.

Tsmoki-Minsk: The Dragons are also desperately searching for a win. Minsk opened the season with four straight losses and is the only team in the League without a victory. While playing on the road for the first time this season, Minsk signed Devon Saddler early in the week, one of the club’s best players a season ago. He should provide some instant offense. 

Lokomotiv-Kuban Russia – Kalev Estonia

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

Lokomotiv-Kuban: It hasn’t been an ideal start for Krasnodar, with losses already in the EuroCup and VTB League. But the Red and Green have taken care of business for the most part and will be heavily favored at home vs. Kalev. Lokomotiv would like to put this game away early.

Kalev: After an impressive win in Nizhny Novgorod to open the season, Kalev has taken a step back, as evidenced by the recent loss in Riga. Injuries have been a major problem for Donaldas Kairys. Tanell Sokk, Erik Keedus and Maxim Salash missed the game vs. VEF, while Ivan Almeida and Reggie Lynch picked up injuries. Kalev will not be at full strength in Krasnodar. 

Zenit Russia – Enisey Russia

Time: 6:00 PM (6:00 MSK)
Place: SIBUR Arena, St. Petersburg, Russia
TV: Match! Nash Sport,

Zenit: St. Petersburg has struggled to start the season, needing three tries to finally break through with a win in the League. Point guard problems have haunted the team and both Mekel and Armand are currently unavailable. Jennings and Scrubb, meanwhile, have not shown much consistency. But Zenit should win at home on Saturday, considering St. Petersburg is a perfect 8-0 vs. Enisey all-time. 

Enisey: The Siberians might have other ideas, though. The team has been trigger-happy from beyond the arc this season, and for good reason, knocking down 41.2% on 97 attempts so far. John Roberson’s recent play will also provide optimism. The team’s biggest star had a slow start, but finally showed what he could do last week in Minsk, erupting for 31 points. 

Zielona Gora Poland – Nizhny Novgorod Russia

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

Zielona Gora: The Poles have been upfront about their playoff ambitions in the VTB League. In order to do so, however, they need to beat other postseason hopefuls at home. Zielona Gora already dropped one game to Astana. Another setback for the League newcomers would be less than ideal.

Nizhny Novgorod: Volga continues to battle injuries and an exhausting schedule. The Black and White fly to Poland after a difficult trip to Bandyrma, Turkey and will almost certainly be short-handed again. Antipov, Grigoryev, Dragicevic, Perry and Odom are all injured, while the coaching staff has lost confidence in Broussard. Even Czerapowicz’s return may not be enough. Nonetheless, given Zoran Lukic’s reputation, expect the Russian visitors to leave everything on the court. 

Sunday, November 4

CSKA Russia – Avtodor Russia

Time: 5:00 PM (5:00 MSK)
Place: USH CSKA, Moscow, Russia
TV: Match! Nash Sport,

CSKA: The most entertaining game of the week may be in Moscow. CSKA and Avtodor lead the League in scoring (94.2 and 94.0 points per game, respectively) with a big gap between 3rd-place Lokomotiv-Kuban at 87.8 points per game. The Army Men will be favored. They have more depth and talent, plus home-court advantage. Even the possible absence of Kurbanov and De Colo is unlikely to change any pre-game predictions. 

Avtodor: Saratov has a shot, though. The tempo will be a big factor. If Moscow can turn the game into a physical, half-court battle, Avtodor will lose its main weapon. But if the visitors can push the pace and score in transition, anything is possible. Avtodor has been extremely good this season when the tempo is high. 

UNICS Russia – VEF Latvia

Time: 6:00 PM (6:00 MSK)
Place: Basket Hall, Kazan, Russia

UNICS: Kazan is still searching for its identity. The loss of playmaker Quino Colom in the offseason and transition to a more athletic style of basketball needs time to mature. Luckily for the home team, the amount of talent has been enough to take care of business in the VTB League. Neither the ongoing rebuild nor injuries to forwards Maxim Sheleketo and Melvin Ejim should prevent UNICS from defeating VEF. 

VEF: Riga began the season with four losses, before finally picking up a win on Wednesday in the Baltic derby. The boost of energy and confidence will help the Latvians in Kazan. Arturs Ausejs and Artis Ate are the two wild cards on VEF’s roster. Both guards rank among the League’s top-five three-point shooters, averaging a combined six 3-pointers per game at a 47.6% clip (30-63). 

Monday, November 5

Astana Kazakhstan – Khimki Russia

Time: 7:30 PM (4:30 MSK)
Place: SC Velotrek, Astana, Kazakhstan

Astana: After wins against Zenit and Zielona Gora, no one is overlooking Astana again. The Kazakh club is tied with UNICS and Lokomotiv-Kuban for 3rd place and has another opportunity to shock the League on Monday. If history is any indication, this will be a fantastic game. Astana defeated Khimki last season at home, 84-79, and lost on a heart-breaker in Khimki, 72-71. 

Khimki: The Yellow and Blue are also off to a blazing start. But fatigue, injuries and the EuroLeague schedule have begun to take a toll. Georgios Bartzokas already gave Alexey Shved and Anthony Gill extra recovery time last week, leaving the duo behind for a road game in Perm. On Monday, Khimki may not be a full strength, either. The risk for Bartzokas, of course, is that Astana may do a better job of making them pay than PARMA.