Round 1: EuroLeague, EuroCup champs collide
The new 2018-19 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season tips off on Thursday, October 11 and Friday, October 12 with the opening-round slate of games that guarantees an action-packed week of basketball. Round 1 is highlighted by a clash of champions in the Spanish capital, where Real Madrid, the reigning Turkish Airlines EuroLeague kings, will collide against Darussafaka Istanbul, last season's 7DAYS EuroCup conqueror, in what is now a traditional opening-week game between the last winners of Europe's most elite competitions. In Darussafaka's last appearance at Wizink Arena, the visitors won Game 2 of the 2017 playoffs, only to eventually lose the series 3-1 to Madrid. A bit earlier on Thursday, the first tipoff of the new season is Buducnost VOLI Podgorica vs. AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan in a first meeting between them and the home team's first Euroleague game in more than 15 years. Two more pairs of first-time opponents meet when Herbalife Gran Canaria travels for its EuroLeague debut to face last season's runner-up and 2017 champion Fenerbahce Istanbul, while FC Bayern Munich marks its return to the competition by welcoming Anadolu Efes Istanbul. A pair of classic games add to the fun on Thursday as CSKA Moscow and FC Barcelona Lassa play their 23rd game this century – including six at Final Fours – in the Russian capital. Meanwhile, Panathinaikos Athens welcomes Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv to resume a historic rivalry that dates to the early 1970s and features several championship games, the last in 2011. On Friday, Zalgiris Kaunas hosts KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz in a matchup of two teams with growing aspirations after both returned to the Final Four in the last three seasons. And last but not least, Khimki Moscow Region hosts Olympiacos Piraeus as visiting coach David Blatt, a former EuroLeague champion with Maccabi who won the EuroCup last season with Darussafaka, will debits for the Reds against Georgios Bartzokas, who is the last man to have led Olympiacos to the EuroLeague title, in 2013. It's a mix of tradition, firsts and champions to open the new Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season!