A new competition format featuring 16 teams that will play each other twice in a 30-round regular season - a first in major European team sports - will allow fans to see all the famous clubs and stars over the next six months
A new era in European professional basketball is set to begin Wednesday with the opening tipoff of the 2016-17 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season, according to euroleague.net. A new competition format featuring 16 teams who will play each other twice in a 30-round regular season - a first in major European team sports - meaning all the famous clubs and stars will cross paths during the next six months. The best eight teams after the regular season will gain access to the best-of-five playoffs, and those series winners will go for glory at the 2017 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four in Istanbul, Turkey. As a taste of things to come, the very first round of this breakthrough season features three games between former continental champions and a clash of the reigning EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup title-holders. It all starts with one game today, continues with three more on Thursday, and wraps up with a four-game Friday.
- The new era opens when Real Madrid welcome Olympiacos Piraeus in a Game of the Week rematch of the original EuroLeague opener back on Oct. 16, 8 p.m.
- In another highlight of opening week, the two European champions square off at the start of the campaign as defending EuroLeague champ CSKA Moscow and the reigning EuroLeague MVP Nando De Colo travel to face Eurocup kings Galatasaray Odeabank on Thursday.
Also on Thursday, EA7 Emporio Armani Milan hosts Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv in Mediolanum Forum, a place of happy memories for the visitors.
Serbian champ Crvena Zvezda plays host to Darüşşafaka Doğuş on Thursday. Zvezda has one of two youngest rosters in the competition, but is a team that feeds well off the emotions and energy of its faithful fans who will pack Aleksandar Nikolic Arena.
On Friday, Unics Kazan welcome FC Barcelona Lassa for the first time in four years. Barcelona are 5-0 all-time against Unics, record which includes a EuroLeague playoff sweep in 2011-12 campaign.
Fenerbahçe host Brose Bamberg in a clash of two teams that played each other once before, during the 2007-08 campaign, when they split regular season home wins. A lot has changed for the better for both teams since then.
In another clash of former continental champions, Panathinaikos Athens hosts Zalgiris Kaunas in the Greek capital. The six-time EuroLeague champion enters a season for first time after 12 years without the legendary Dimitris Diamantidis.
The opening week of the new EuroLeague wraps up on Friday night with Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz welcoming Anadolu Efes and head coach Velimir Perasovic, the same guy who led Baskonia all the way to the Final Four last season - as well as in 2006.