A pair of storied clubs help open the 2022-23 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season on Thursday, and then two more help bring down the curtain on Round 1 late on Friday night. In between, the great feast that is the EuroLeague is served up at last.
Round 1 at a glance: Classics to start and finish opening week
Panathinaikos Athens vs. Real Madrid
Last season's runner-up Real visits the Greens at OAKA to get the season rolling on Thursday. Both have new head coaches, with Dejan Radonjic having arrived from Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade to take charge at Panathinaikos, while Chus Mateo stepped up from his previous assistant's role for Real. The visitors welcome back playmaker Sergio Rodriguez for his second spell at the club, and he will go up against Paris Lee, one of the new men in the Greens' backcourt.
LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne vs. EA7 Emporio Armani Milan
One of this summer's highest-profile signings, Nando De Colo, will make his debut for ASVEL against a Milan team that has significantly strengthened its roster with the addition of proven performers such as Kevin Pangos, Billy Baron, Johannes Voigtmann and Brandon Davies. Milan coach Ettore Messina is clearly determined to build a title-winning squad but the first challenge is not an easy one as ASVEL looks to defend its home court.
Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv vs. Zalgiris Kaunas
Another pair of new coaches will be tested for the first time as Oded Kattash leads Maccabi into battle against a Zalgiris team now headed by Kazys Maksvytis. It's very much a fresh start for Maccabi with no fewer than 10 summer signings, including explosive backcourt stars Lorenzo Brown, Wade Baldwin and Darrun Hilliard. Zalgiris has also restocked and will hope that its newcomers Keenan Evans – playing this week against his former team – and Rolands Smits, among others, can make an instant impact.
FC Bayern Munich vs. Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul
After reaching the playoffs for the last two seasons, Bayern will attempt to spoil Fenerbahce's debut under new boss Dimitris Itoudis. Bayern has kept the core of last year's high-achieving squad while adding fresh faces with EuroLeague newcomers Freddie Gillespie, Cassius Winston and Isaac Bonga. Itoudis is overseeing a mini-revolution at ambitious Fenerbahce, with his arrival accompanied by those of superstars Nemanja Bjelica, Scottie Wilbekin and Nick Calathes, the EuroLeague's all-time assists leader.
Valencia Basket vs. Cazoo Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz
In Thursday's last game, an all-Spanish affair comes with the added twist of new Baskonia coach Joan Penarroya making his EuroLeague coaching debut on the court of the club he led last season, Valencia. The home side is now led by Alex Mumbru, another newcomer to the EuroLeague coaching fraternity, and will look to long-serving veterans Bojan Dubljevic, Sam van Rossom and Klemen Prepelic to make the difference against a Baskonia team refreshed by the arrival of new backcourt duo Markus Howard and Darius Thompson.
Anadolu Efes Istanbul vs. Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade
In Friday's first game, reigning champ Efes begins its quest for a three-peat without injured star Shane Larkin, but still looks ominously strong following the signing of Will Clyburn, Ante Zizic and Achille Polonara to join the likes of back-to-back Final Four MVP Vasilije Micic. Zvezda's new head coach, Vladimir Jovanovic, could hardly face a tougher EuroLeague debut, and will hope that new signings such as Jaylen Adams and Hassan Martin can spark a big upset in Istanbul.
ALBA Berlin vs. Partizan mts Belgrade
Partizan returns to the EuroLeague after an eight-year absence with plenty of optimism as iconic coach Zeljko Obradovic leads a group strengthened by the arrival of experienced players like Dante Exum, Danilo Andjusic, Ioannis Papapetrou and James Nunnally. But ALBA will not be an easy opponent by any means, with head coach Israel Gonzalez leading a young, talented squad, led by Luke Sikma and Maodo Lo, that had the most roster stability in the competition over the summer.
Virtus Bologna vs. AS Monaco
Virtus will play its first EuroLeague game in 14 years by welcoming Monaco. Sergio Scariolo's EuroCup-winning team boasts plenty of proven top-level talent with the likes of Milos Teodosic, Daniel Hackett and Marco Belinelli, but Monaco – which came within a few points of reaching the Final Four last season – will be a tough and dynamic opponent with returning stars Mike James and Donta Hall joined by talented newcomers like John Brown, Elie Okobo and Jordan Loyd.
FC Barcelona vs. Olympiacos Piraeus
Last season's defeated semifinalists meet at Palau Blaugrana, where Barcelona and Olympiacos will look to launch new title bids with an early victory. Both teams have welcomed high-profile summer additions with Czech duo Tomas Satoransky and Jan Vesely ready to power Barca, who will be without injured reigning league MVP Nikola Mirotic for the foreseeable future. Olympiacos has retained the majority of last season's roster while adding former title winners Joel Bolomboy and Alec Peters to start the new campaign looking even stronger.