A pair of venerable backcourt warriors and former champions with more than 250 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague appearances each will face off in EuroLeague play for the 15th time on Friday.
Hackett and Hanga head into another vintage clash
It is hard to imagine a EuroLeague season without Daniel Hackett or Adam Hanga. The two veteran guards have been leaders-by-example while competing in the Europe's most elite club competition for an entire decade.
Hanga, in his 10th EuroLeague season with 258 games played, made his competition debut in December 2013. Hackett did so exactly a year earlier and is now in his 12th campaign, entering Round 4 with 278 appearances under his belt.
Their greatest achievements came in the past four years, as Hackett was first to win a EuroLeague title, with CSKA Moscow in 2019. Hanga won the trophy last season with Real Madrid in what was his fourth Final Four.
Now, ready to see one another on the opposite sides one more time, Hackett and Hanga bring all that experience, winning know-how and great defensive skill into Friday night's clash between Virtus Segafredo Bologna and Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet Belgrade.
Until now, they have gone head-to-head 14 times, the first time in January 2014 when Hackett was with EA7 Emporio Armani Milan and Hanga was with Laboral Kutxa, now Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Half of those 14 head-to-head games came in the period between 2014 and 2016, when Hackett was first with Milan and then Olympiacos Piraeus, and his team's had a 6-1 record against Hanga's Baskonia.
Hanga started catching up in the years since, winning five of the last seven games they shared while wearing the jerseys of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. In that span, Hackett was playing with Brose Bamberg, CSKA Moscow and, finally, Virtus last season.
And while the record in head-to-head games stands at 8-6 in Hackett's favor, the stats these two players have produced in those 14 games are equally close.
Hanga (7.7 ppg.) has slightly outscored Hackett (7.1 ppg.) and also holds a rebounding advantage of 4.1 to Hackett's 2.3 per game. But Hackett has shot 15-for-32 (46.9%) from three-point distance in those games, compared to Hanga's 12-for-35 (34.3%). He has also dished 2.8 assists on average to Hanga's 1.9. It all led to Hanga's average PIR coming out just over 2 points better than Hackett's over their 14 games together.
To take it one step further, their 2023-24 stats coming into this game are even more similar. Each has played just over 22 minutes in three games this season. Hackett, set to turn 36 years of age in December, posts 6.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and also 1.7 steals for Virtus (2-1). The 34-year old Hanga is averaging 6.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists for Zvezda (1-2).
Both Hackett and Hanga would love nothing more to outduel an old rival one more time, but even more importantly, both know that their performances could provide a significant early-season boost for their respective clubs in the battle for position in the standings.