On the penultimate night of the longest, most intense regular season in the history of European club competition, the first two pairings for the 2016-17 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs became known on Thursday.
One of those confirmed best-of-five series will be fourth-place Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens (19-11) vs. fifth-place Fenerbahce Istanbul (18-12). Of course, that means that Fenerbahce head coach Zeljko Obradovic will face the club he led to five EuroLeague titles. It will be his first EuroLeague playoffs matchup ever against Panathinaikos.
Thursday's results also mean that, even before it plays on Friday, Anadolu Efes Istanbul (17-12) is assured of finishing sixth and will match up in the playoffs against third-place Olympiacos Piraeus. Those two clubs have been down the playoffs road together before, going to Game 5 back in 2013 before Olympiacos prevailed on the way to its second EuroLeague title in a row.
Efes will tie on victories with Fenerbahce should it beat first-place Real Madrid on the road Friday. But in a head-to-head tie, Fenerbahce had the bigger of two home wins they split and so is guaranteed fifth place ahead of Efes.
That leaves the opponents of two more series to be determined by Friday's results.
Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz (17-13) will be seventh and face second-place CSKA Moscow in the playoffs unless Efes wins in Madrid and Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade (16-13) defeats host Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (15-14) in their showdown for the last playoffs berth. If both those things happen, it will be CSKA vs. Zvezda in one playoff and Madrid vs. Baskonia in the other.
If Efes loses, Baskonia remains seventh and the Darussafaka-Zvezda game will determine eighth place.
If Efes and Darussafaka both win, Baskonia will finish seventh and face CSKA while Madrid will meet Darussafaka in the playoffs.