BC Tsmoki Minsk - BC Zenit Saint Petersburg predictions and free betting tips [18/11/2023]
In the first game of the United League VTB day, BC "Minsk" will host "Zenit" from Saint Petersburg on their home court.
The battle for the play-offs in the United League VTB has intensified to the limit with the updated line-up of participants, and it was difficult to say before the start whether the Belarusian club with its modest capabilities could compete. The arrival in the off-season of Grigory Motovilov, a bright point guard trying to find his team, and Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson seemed capable of invigorating the team, but so far the real level of "Minsk" is battling for the final places in the regular season.
"Minsk" started this championship with ten consecutive defeats. The team lost to "Paris-NN" (60:89), "Yenisei" (73:64), "UNIKS" (49:97), "Samara" (78:91), "Parma" (78:73), "CSKA" (112:84), "Rune" (71:53), "Uralmash" (73:101), "MBA" (84:54) and "Astana" (78:74).
In the last match the Belarusian club was closest to their first victory of the season and even led the score after three quarters, but the endgame remained with the hosts.
It's not entirely clear yet how the "Minsk" are planning to beat their potential competitors for the play-in zone, and the only bright spot in the team's performance remains the performances of Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson (averaging 18 points per game).
"Zenit" Saint Petersburg
Last season the Petersburgians were unable to defend their title and stopped in the semi-finals, losing to the future league champion, Kazan's "UNIKS".
In the off-season, veteran players Sergey Monya, Vitaliy Fridzon, Dmitry Kulagin and some of the foreign legionnaires left: Caleb Houmsli, Trey Thompkins, Royce Hamm. The most important thing is that "Zenit" was able to keep its coach - Xavi Pascual and the French duo Tom Ertel and Adrien Moerman.
European stars Kyle Kuric and Bojan Dubljevic were signed for support. Additionally, Georgy Zhbanov and Vince Hunter were signed from the competition's newly minted champions.
To create bench depth, Timofey Gerasimov was bought from "Yenisei", who became the captain of the Russian national team this off-season.
On paper, the St.Petersburg team are the main favourite of the season, but the destiny of the United League VTB Cup, as always, will be decided on the court.
In their first match of the season, "Zenit" was smacked hard by the audacious tournament newcomer - "Uralmash". The team reacted to this defeat with a victory over a sturdy "Samara" side away. However, in the match against "CSKA", the Petersburgians allowed the opponent to break away in the first half, and they only had enough strength to tighten the match in the endgame. Victories over "Astana" (69:78) and "MBA" (85:74) and "Yenisei" (80:77) weren't surprising, but the defeat at the end of the match against BC "Lokomotiv-Kuban" underlined an unpleasant tendency for the Petersburg side: so far all key matches of this regular season have been lost by "Zenit" in the endgame.
Additionally, last Sunday the Petersburg side lost to "UNIKS" from Kazan (83:93) and dropped to 8th place in the table.
Last week "Zenit" thrashed the home team, "Parma" from Perm (78:54) and "Avtodor" from Saratov away, but these victories hardly allow for far-reaching conclusions about the team's recovery from the crisis.
In the last head-to-head match last season, the Minsk side won (57:67)
"Minsk" has still not been able to secure a single victory in this championship and at the moment it is difficult to name a team that the Belarusian club could beat. The most obvious option for betting on this match would seem to be the negative handicap on "Zenit", but I prefer to go through the Individual Total Over 89.5 for the visitors. Frankly speaking, there's a breeze running through the Belarusian club's defence, and all the top (and not only) teams have thrown close to a hundred at "Minsk" this season.