Week Twenty Preview

Lokomotiv-Kuban vs. Avtodor and CSKA vs. Khimki highlight the action in Week Twenty.

Sunday, February 7

Lokomotiv-Kuban (Russia) - Avtodor (Russia)
4:00 PM (4:00 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 appear to have to overcome their early season struggles, which kept the club in 7th place for much longer than expected. The defense installed by Georgios Bartzokas in the preseason has been terrific and now the team is beginning to make progress on offense. On Thursday, for example, Kuban destroyed Unicaja in the Euroleague Top 16 by drilling 14 3-pointers.

Avtodor: Saratov has lost two straight in the league, but could move within half a game of 5th-place Lokomotiv with a win. Avtodor also defeated Hapoel Jerusalem mid-week in the Eurocup and Travis Peterson picked up the Round 5 MVP thanks to a 29-point, 6-rebound performance.

Bisons (Finland) - Kalev (Estonia)
4:00 PM (5:00 PM MSK)
Place: Loimaa Sports Hall, Loimaa, Finland
TV: Elisa Viihde (Finland), SA Tallinna Televisioon (Estonia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Bisons: The Bisons played at home last week and lost, despite leading by double digits. Head coach Greg Gibson said then that his team lacked a "killer instinct". The club needs to make amends on Sunday, but don't expect the Finns to have an easy time of it. Bisons have yet to beat Kalev, losing all three meetings between the two clubs.

Kalev: The Estonians are one spot below Bisons in the standings and would swap positions in the event of a road win. Kalev has lost five in a row, including several games vs. teams in the bottom half of the standings. The Estonians did recently add center Shawn King, however, who played for Tsmoki-Minsk back in 2011.

VEF (Latvia) - Krasny Oktyabr (Russia)
5:00 PM (6:00 PM MSK)
Place: Arena Riga, Latvia, Riga
TV: Riga TV (Latvia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

VEF: Riga has been stuck in 15th place for several weeks, though only two and a half games sperate the Latvians from 9th-place Tsmoki-Minsk. VEF has to win at home vs. Krasny Oktyabr--the window of opportunity to move up the standings is quickly closing.

Krasny Oktyabr: Despite sitting five games under .500 (6-11), Oktyabr may be favored on the road. The Steelmen have won four games on the road, while VEF is a measly 1-6 at home. Riga's first win of the season, however, came in Volgograd, which should motivate the visitors to get revenge.

Nizhny Novgorod (Russia) - Vita (Georgia)
5:30 PM (5:30 PM MSK)
Place: FOK Meshchersky, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
TV: Silk TV Sport 3 (Georgia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Nizhny Novgorod: The Volga club has won two in a row and picked up some breathing room in the playoff chase. Playing at home vs. 0-18 Vita, Nizhny will be expected to pick up its 10th win of the season.

Vita: Since October 2015, when the two teams first met in the VTB United League, Tbilisi has undergone big changes, but remains stuck in the league cellar. Though a win may be out of reach, Vita will look to keep Nizhny under 100 points (the home team announced a promotion "Root for 100" prior to the game).

UNICS (Russia) - Astana (Kazakhstan)
6:00 PM (6:00 PM MSK)
Place: Basket Hall, Kazan, Russia
TV: Match! Nash sport (Russia), KAZ Sport (Kazakhstan), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

UNICS: Evgeny Pashutin's men cannot be stopped. Kazan knocked off Nizhny Novgorod in the Eurocup earlier this week, even without Keith Langford. UNICS would love to pick up another win in the VTB United League (Kazan is 6-1 all-time vs. Astana) and keep the pressure on 1st-place CSKA.

Astana: The Kazakh club's only win vs. UNICS came last March. After trailing for three quarters, Astana stomped Kazan in the 4th quarter, 31-10. But that victory came at home and Ramunas Butautas's men tend to struggle on the road. Astana will also need to find a way to solve Kazan's offense (88.4 ppg, 3rd in the league), despite giving up 90 ppg (2nd-worst in the league).

Monday, February 8

Khimki (Russia) - CSKA (Russia)
7:00 PM (7:00 PM MSK)
Place: BCMO Sports Complex, Khimki, Russia
TV: Match TV (Russia), Match! Nash sport (Russia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Khimki: The Game of the Week features two teams from the top-3. With a win, Khimki can keep pace with 2nd-place UNICS, while giving Evgeny Pashutin's club a chance to pull within a game of CSKA by defeating Astana. If Khimki wants to challenge for the league's top seed, it has to win this game. Prior to the New Year, Khimki knocked off CSKA in the Euroleague. Can they do it again in the VTB United League?

CSKA: Despite losing to Khimki a little over a month ago, the Army Men enjoy a three-game lead over Moscow Region in the VTB League standings. CSKA has only lost once in the league this season and scored a big win vs. Lithuanian rivals Zalgiris in the Euroleague on Friday.

Enisey (Russia) - Nymburk (Czech Republic)
7:10 PM (3:10 PM MSK)
Place: Sports Palace, Krasnoyarsk, Russia
TV: Match! Nash sport (Russia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Enisey: Oleg Okulov's men continue to battle on two fronts. On Thursday, the Siberian club reached the Top 16 of the FIBA-Europe Cup. Krasnoyarsk ended its losing streak last week by defeating VEF. The series between Enisey and Nymburk, meanwhile, has historically been very competitive with the Czechs enjoying a 5-4 advantage.

Nymburk: The team has struggled in recent months, dropping to 7th in the standings. But the team may be on the verge of a breakthrough. Nymburk nearly knocked off UNICS last week and has an excellent opportunity to win on the road vs. 6-11 Enisey.