The 2015-16 Turkish Airlines Euroleague season is finally here! The 10-game round-robin regular season features 24 teams split into four groups of six squads each. The best four teams from each group will advance to the Top 16. This season features 11 national champions and nine clubs that have previously lifted the continental crown! The Road to the Final Four in Berlin starts with 12 exciting games evenly split with six apiece on Thursday and Friday.
In the group's opening game on Thursday, Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade welcomes Strasbourg. It's the third straight Euroleague campaign for Zvezda and second in three years for the French side, which visits Kombank Arena in the first ever official meeting between the two teams. On Friday, Fenerbahce Istanbul and FC Bayern Munich go against one another for the second season in a row. Fenerbahce is coming off a successful Euroleague Basketball World Tour 2015 trip where it defeated the Brooklyn Nets. This is also a clash of two former Euroleague winning coaches - Fenerbahce's Zeljko Obradovic has eight continental titles, while Bayern's Svetislav Pesic is one of the rare Euroleague winners as both a player and coach. Also on Friday, defending Euroleague champ Real Madrid pays a visit to the ambitious Khimki Moscow Region. It's the first time in nine years that the reigning Euroleague and Eurocup champions play each other in the regular season. Madrid returns eight players who lifted the Euroleague trophy in the Spanish capital last May, including the reigning Final Four MVP Andres Nocioni, while Khimki has 11 players that participated in winning the Eurocup crown, including Tyrese Rice, the 2014 Final Four MVP and 2015 Eurocup MVP.
Euroleague runner-up Olympiacos Piraeus hosts Croatian champion Cedevita Zagreb to get things started in Group B on Thursday. The two teams last played each other in the 2012-13 regular season, when Olympiacos swept the series on its way to the Euroleague title. Vassilis Spanoulis, Georgios Printezis and co. will try to get their campaign rolling with a winning start for the fourth straight season. In two Friday games, the French champion Limoges CSP welcomes Anadolu Efes Istanbul for the first time since 1997. These teams played four times in the Euroleague during the 1990s, and the all-time score is 2-2. The hosts return to the competition for the second season in a row, while Efes hopes to build on last season when it reached the playoffs. EA7 Emporio Armani Milan hosts Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz for the fourth straight season, but in a rare meeting of two Croatian coaches on respective benches, Jasmin Repesa and Velimir Perasovic. In six previous games, each side has three wins. Last season they split Top 16 home victories.
The new Euroleague season starts on Thursday when Turkish champion Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir makes history with its competition debut hosting none other than Euroleague powerhouse FC Barcelona Lassa. The visitors arrive for the first time to Turkey’s Aegean coast with a plan to win their Euroleague season opener for eighth time in a row, while the home team hopes to get a boost from the local fans and introduce itself to the Euroleague in style. In a high-profile matchup on Friday, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar welcomes Panathinaikos Athens. Lokomotiv is back for its second Euroleague appearance, and last time around it also played Panathinaikos; the teams split road wins during 2012-13 regular season. Also on Friday, Polish champion Stelmet Zielona Gora plays at home against the Lithuanian champ Zalgiris Kaunas in their first head-to-head clash. The clubs come from neighboring countries, but the two cities are 850 kilometers apart and Zalgiris has not visited Poland since 2010.
All three Group D games are scheduled for Thursday. Action starts with the 34th showdown between two classic Euroleague teams when CSKA Moscow hosts Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv. These sides have met five times in the previous two seasons, with the only Maccabi's win coming at the 2014 Final Four. CSKA swept Maccabi in the regular season last year. Newcomer Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul will play its first ever Turkish Airlines Euroleague contest at home against Italian champion Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari. Both teams have brand new rosters and aim to make noise from Round 1. In the final clash of the night, Unicaja welcomes German champion Brose Baskets Bamberg. It is the fourth time in six years Brose Baskets visits Malaga, having already won twice before, in 2010 and 2011, but Unicaja holds a 4-2 all-time head-to-head edge.
Follow all the action as it happens live on the Euroleague's official twitter account, @Euroleague, on Euroleague TV, on many other television networks around the world and, of course, right here on Euroleague.net!