Week 23 Preview

Avtodor and Khimki clash in Saratov, CSKA hosts Lokomotiv-Kuban and more in our Week 23 preview.

Sunday, February 28

Avtodor (Russia) - Khimki (Russia)
3:00 PM (3:00 PM MSK)
Place: Kristall Sports Palace, Saratov, Russia
TV: Match! Nash sport (Russia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Avtodor: Saratov finally snapped its losing streak last week, knocking off Enisey in Krasnoyarsk in a hard-fought game. Khimki will be an even bigger challenge, but Avtodor has had success vs. Moscow Region,  crushing Rimas Kurtinaitis's club by 26 points last season in Saratov.

Khimki: Moscow Region still enjoys a healthy lead in the all-time series, beating Avtodor in the other four meetings between these two clubs. Khimki will also be looking to bounce back after losses to Nizhny Novgorod in the VTB United League and CSKA in the Euroleague.

Nymburk (Czech Republic) - Tsmoki-Minsk (Belarus)
4:00 PM (6:00 PM MSK)
Place: SA Nymburk, Nymburk, Czech Republic
TV: TV Nova Sport (Czech Republic), Belarus-5 (Belarus), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Nymburk: The Lions suffered a disappointing setback last week, losing to 15th-place VEF by eight points. On Sunday, Nymburk hosts another club from the bottom third of the standings. Boasting a 7-2 record at home, the Lions will be favored to pick up the win.

Tsmoki-Minsk: The Belarusians are 2-7 on the road and have only won once in seven meetings with Nymburk. Tsmoki's last victory over Ronen Ginzburg's club came back in 2013.

Bisons (Finland) - Enisey (Russia)
4:00 PM (5:00 PM MSK)
Place: Loimaa Sports Hall, Loimaa, Finland
TV: Elisa Viihde (Finland), Match! Nash sport (Russia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Bisons: Bisons are 2-2 in their last four outings, including a 54-point loss in Kazan last week. Playing at home, the Finns would love to bounce back vs. Enisey. Bisons enjoys a half-game lead over Krasnoyarsk in the standings and could match its win total from last season with a victory.

Enisey: Krasnoyarsk has dropped nine of 10, including a heart-breaking loss to Avtodor last week. Despite struggling in the VTB United League, Enisey has qualified for the FIBA Europe Cup quarterfinals and could pass Bisons in the standings with a win.

Kalev (Estonia) - Nizhny Novgorod (Russia)
5:00 PM (6:00 PM MSK)
Place: Audentes, Tallinn, Estonia
TV: SA Tallinna Televisioon (Estonia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Kalev: A year ago, Kalev stunned Nizhny Novgorod with a 110-76 win in Tallinn. Trailing by five games in the standings, the Estonians would love to spring another upset on Sunday.

Nizhny Novgorod: Ainars Bagatskis's club has won four of its last five to move back above .500 (including last week's win in Khimki). Currently in a tie for 6th with Avtodor and Nymburk, Nizhny hopes to keep its momentum going in Tallinn.

UNICS (Russia) - Vita (Georgia)
6:00 PM (6:00 PM MSK)
Place: Basket Hall, Kazan, Russia
TV: Silk TV Sport 3 (Georgia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

UNICS: Kazan has won 13 straight to keep within striking distance of 1st-place CSKA. Vita isn't likely to slow the UNICS train down. Keith Langford scored a season-high 36 points vs. the Georgian club in the first meeting between these two teams. UNICS head coach Evgeny Pashutin also has an excellent chance to pick up his 100th win in the VTB United League, joining Khimki's Rimas Kurtinaitis in the elite club.

Vita: Tbilisi continues to struggle. After almost beating Kalev, Vita got blown out in Krasnodar and played poorly vs. Bisons. Perhaps the planned performances from Georgian singers and artists during Sunday's game will help inspire Vita on the court.

CSKA (Russia) - Lokomotiv-Kuban (Russia)
7:00 PM (7:00 PM MSK)
Place: USH CSKA, Moscow, Russia
TV: Match! Nash sport (Russia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

CSKA: The Army Men host Lokomotiv-Kuban in the Game of the Week. Both teams boast impressive winning streaks (CSKA has won 19 straight, Loko's streak is at 10) and secured important victories in the Euroleague earlier this week. It should be a terrific game at the USH CSKA on Sunday evening.

Lokomotiv-Kuban: Krasnodar is playing extremely well and should make life difficult for the reigning champs. Loko's signature defense gave CSKA problems in the first meeting, but Kuban also struggled to score, suffering a 12-point defeat. Since then, Loko's offense has been much improved and the barrage of Krasnodar 3's may be too much for even the mighty Itoudis Wall.

Astana (Kazakhstan) - VEF (Latvia)
8:00 PM (5:00 PM MSK)
Place: SC Velotrek, Astana, Kazakhstan
TV: KAZ Sport (Kazakhstan), Riga TV (Latvia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Astana: Astana went 0-4 over the last four weeks against the league's top-four clubs. The competition finally gets easier on Sunday with 6-15 VEF coming to town. Nonetheless, VEF does hold a 6-4 edge in the all-time series and could give Astana trouble. Ramunas Butautas's men need to be ready for a competitive game.

VEF: While currently in 15th place, Riga could move as high as 12th with a win on Sunday. Coming off victories vs. Nymburk and Tsmoki-Minsk in recent weeks, VEF hopes to score another road win against 6-14 Astana.