Regular Season, Round 2: Six teams host home openers
Six more sets of home fans will get to see their favorite teams in action in their own arenas for the first time this Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season in Round 2. The schedule is highlighted by the earliest meeting this century between the two teams with the most continental titles, respectively, Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow. The only fans that still will not see their heroes up close after two rounds are those of champions Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul and Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz. Both are looking for first victories in their second consecutive games on the road, while Khimki Moscow Region and Olympiacos Piraeus try to stay perfect in second games at home. The eight games are evenly split between Thursday and Friday. Here's a closer look.
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv vs. Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz
Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv will be hopping as Maccabi FOX (1-0) returns from an encouraging road win to host Baskonia on Thursday. This will be their 25th game since 2002 and Baskonia (0-1) holds a slight 11-13 edge. All eyes will be on Pierre Jackson, the Round 1 MVP, who will face Baskonia's Marcelinho Huertas in a marquee matchup. Look for Johannes Voigtmann, Tornike Shengelia and Iliman Diop to try to improve on Baskonia's rebounding while going against Alex Tyus and Artsiom Parakhouski of Maccabi.
Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens vs. Brose Bamberg
Two ambitious teams seek a first victory as Panathinaikos (0-1) welcomes Bamberg (0-1) to Athens. The Greens have dominated Bamberg 7-1 overall and 4-0 at home over the years. Both teams collapsed late in Round 1, giving up 33 points each in the fourth quarter of blowout losses. Team leaders Nick Calathes of Panathinaikos and Nikos Zisis of Bamberg will be called on to rally their troops in this one. Chris Singleton seldom has two quiet games in a row for the hosts, while Bamberg's largely new group will need to summon chemistry to challenge on the road before a great Panathinaikos crowd.
AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan vs. Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul
A first win is up for grabs between Milan (0-1), in its home opener, and Fenerbahce (1-0), playing on the road again. This relatively new rivalry favors the visitors (7-10) who have beaten Milan six meetings in a row. Milan saw good signs from newcomers Andrew Goudelock, Vladimir Micov, Arturas Gudaitis and Dairis Bertans in an opening-round loss. Undermanned Fenerbahce fell by a point away despite leaders Kostas Sloukas, Luigi Datome and Jan Vesely doing their jobs. Nicolo Melli returns to face his original club to try to help the champs get on track sooner rather than later.
Real Madrid vs. CSKA Moscow
One of world basketball's oldest and greatest rivalries is the Game of the Week as CSKA (1-0) visits Madrid (1-0) for what is their earliest meeting this century. All eyes will be on Sergio Rodriguez, the new CSKA point guard who was 2014 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague MVP and 2015 champion with Madrid. This is his first game against his old team, and he will match up with teen marvel Luka Doncic, who got off to a hot start as Madrid won away last week. The firepower never ends for either side, with Gustavo Ayon and Anthony Randolph dominating inside for Madrid, while Nando De Colo and Will Clyburn do so on the perimeter for CSKA. A fascinating duel is in store from which only one team can remain unbeaten.
Khimki Moscow Region vs. Zalgiris Kaunas
Two unbeaten teams raise the curtain on Friday in the Russian capital as Zalgiris (1-0) visits Khimk (1-0). When last they met there, two years ago, Khimki set a club record with 111 points. The hosts boast star power in Alexey Shved and newcomer Thomas Robinson. Zalgiris will have to counter with a team effort led by veteran Paulius Jankunas, going against his old team. Zalgiris newcomers Brandon Davies and Vasilije Misic need to avoid foul trouble for the visitors to match Khimki's depth, which includes versatile Malcolm Thomas and ace passer Stefan Markovic, among others.
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade vs. FC Barcelona Lassa
Zvezda (0-1) hosts Barcelona (1-0) for the first time this century at a home of giant-killings, Aleksandar Nikolic Hall. Barcelona blasted off with 98 points in a home win last week, while Zvezda had a shot in the air for a road upset, but missed. A battle in the paint between Zvezda veterans Milko Bjelica and Pero Antic going against visiting duo Kevin Seraphin and Adrien Moermann will be key. Shooters Taylor Rochestie and James Feldeine will give the hosts hope, but must defend passers Thomas Heurtel and Phil Pressey, too, to make the most of the home-court advantage.
Olympiacos Piraeus vs. Unicaja Malaga
Olympiacos (1-0) stays home to try to stay undefeated against scrappy visitor Unicaja (1-0) in a battle of two teams that love to rebound. The Reds were admirably strong in their opener despite injuries to Vassilis Spanoulis and Kim Tillie as Georgios Printezis and Dimitrios Agravanis stepped up big. Unicaja had a true team effort with only one player scoring in double figures to beat Fenerbahce in a defensive battle. Both teams relied on 16 offensive rebounds for those wins, so whichever can keep that going will have the edge.
Valencia Basket vs. Anadolu Efes Istanbul
A first victory is the reward as Valencia (0-1) and Efes (0-1) square off for the first time in almost seven years. Visiting coach Velimir Perasovic will challenge the team he won a 7DAYS EuroCup title with, but there will be little room for emotion as each team reaches for the win column. Eric Green leads Valencia's charge against Efes perimeter threats Errick McCollum and Rick Ledo. Bryant Dunston must stand up for the visitors against the big duo of Bojan Dubljevic and Tibor Pleiss for the hosts.