Week 29 Preview

Nymburk - Zenit highlights Sunday's Week 29 slate in the VTB United League.

Sunday, April 10

Bisons (Finland) - Avtodor (Russia)
4:00 PM (4:00 PM MSK)
Place: Loimaa Sports Hall, Loimaa, Finland
TV: Elisa Viihde (Finland), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Bisons: The Finns have two home games left on the schedule and would love to take advantage by snapping their six-game skid. Unfortunately for Bisons, they face the league's hottest team, Avtodor, winners of eight straight. Greg Gibson's club is 0-3 vs. Saratov all-time and has yet to play a competitive game against the Russians.

Avtodor: The stakes are high for Avtodor as the season winds down. Another win this weekend would significantly improve Saratov's chances of moving into 5th place and keep their hopes alive of home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Going against 8-20 Bisons, Avtodor cannot afford a shock setback.

Nymburk (Czech Republic) - Zenit (Russia)
4:00 PM (5:00 PM MSK)
Place: SA Nymburk, Nymburk, Czech Republic
TV: TV Nova Sport (Czech Republic), Match! Nash sport (Russia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Nymburk: Nymburk could still catch Avtodor for 6th place, but must win each of its remaining three games vs. Zenit, Khimki and Nizhny Novgorod. It's not an easy task, but the Lions will try to take the first step at home against 4th-place Zenit.

Zenit: St. Petersburg has even higher ambitions: a spot in the top-three. Zenit has enjoyed a lot of success against Nymburk, going 3-0 in the past two seasons. But there are signs for concern. Vasily Karasev's club has been hit hard by injuries and fatigue thanks to a frenetic finish to the season (15 games in six weeks).

Khimki (Russia) - Tsmoki-Minsk (Belarus)
5:00 PM (5:00 PM MSK)
Place: BCMO Sports Complex, Khimki, Russia
TV: Belarus-5 (Belarus), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Khimki: Moscow Region suffered a devastating blow on Thursday, getting eliminated from the Euroleague following a road loss to Real. On the bright side, Khimki can now focus all of its attention on the VTB United League. Expect an extremely motivated team to take the court against Dragons on Sunday.

Tsmoki-Minsk: After the loss to Lokomotiv-Kuban, Minsk coach Igor Grishchuk said that the Dragons aren't yet able to compete as equals with clubs like Loko and CSKA. Khimki also belongs to that group and will be very focused after the Euroleague disappointment. The Dragons have yet to defeat Khimki in league competition (0-5 all-time), though they managed to force overtime this December in a hard-fought game at home.

Nizhny Novgorod (Russia) - VEF (Latvia)
5:30 PM (5:30 PM MSK)
Place: Sports Palace, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
TV: Riga TV (Latvia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Nizhny Novgorod: Point guard Dmitry Khvostov was named the league's Top Russian Player in March, forward Victor Rudd won the league's March MVP and the team won four of five games, including victories vs. UNICS and Loko. But there's still plenty of work to do with the club locked in a battle with Nymburk for 7th place.

VEF: Riga survived a brutal five-game stretch, which included games against CSKA, Khimki and UNICS. Despite coming up empty against the three contenders, VEF was extremely competitive and came close to springing an upset or two.

But it doesn't get any easier for the Latvians. The team last defeated Nizhny in 2012, while its opponent is an impressive 11-2 at home this season, including wins over four of the league's top five teams.

Vita (Georgia) - Astana (Kazakhstan)
9:00 PM (8:00 PM MSK)
Place: Tbilisi Sports Palace, Tbilisi, Georgia
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Vita: Coach Nikolai Mazurs said the team's main challenge down the stretch is finishing the season with dignity. Ideally, Tbilisi can pick up at least one more win. Sunday provides an excellent opportunity with 15th-place Astana coming to town. Vita continues to struggle with its roster (the team had only six men available against Nymburk), but will be motivated to get revenge for a 57-point loss to the Kazkhs earlier this season.

Astana: The Kazakhs aren't in much better shape. Injuries to the team's leaders have resulted in a 12-game skid. There is some good news: forward Pat Calathes returned against Enisey and could be a big factor in Tbilisi.

Lokomotiv-Kuban (Russia) - Enisey (Russia)
7:00 PM (7:00 PM MSK)
Place: Basket Hall, Krasnodar, Russia
TV: Match TV (Russia), Match! Nash sport (Russia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Lokomotiv-Kuban: The Railwaymen have a busy finish to the regular season. Loko is trying to lock down 3rd place in the league, while preparing for its first-ever appearance in the Euroleague quarterfinals. Next week's visit to Zenit will be huge, but first Loko needs to take care of business at home vs. Enisey.

Enisey: Despite being eliminated from playoff contention, Krasnoyarsk has won three of its last five to move into 9th place. The club is also gearing up for an appearance in the FIBA Europe Cup Final Four in late April, making Sunday's contest in Krasnodar a good test against an elite team.