With four consecutive Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four appearances and three straight trips to the championship game, Fenerbahce Istanbul has etched its name into history and enters the season as a serious contender for what would be its second EuroLeague crown. Before that can happen, Fenerbahce will have to overcome many challenges. Here are five exciting games that highlight the Fenerbahce calendar along the way.
Round 4: The first derby
With three Istanbul-based teams in the EuroLeague this season, Fenerbahce will have four local derby games to contest in the competition. The first of those comes with a Round 4 trip across the Bosphorus Bridge to face Anadolu Efes. Fener has dominated the rivalry recently with nine wins in their 10 EuroLeague clashes, but the games are always spirited and will serve as a stern test for both teams so early in the season.
Round 7: 2017 title game rematch
Fenerbahce has played in three consecutive Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Championship Games and the only time it was victorious came in the middle one, in 2017 versus Olympiacos Piraeus. However, last season the Reds bested Fenerbahce twice, including a 25-point drubbing in Round 21. This will mark Fener's first visit to Peace & Friendship Stadium since that game. It is also a chance for Fenerbahce guard Kostas Sloukas to visit his home and for two giants of the coaching profession, Zeljko Obradovic and David Blatt, to match wits once more.
Round 11: Closing a brutal road stretch
When Coach Obradovic leads Fenerbahce into his former longtime home to face Panathinaikos Athens in early December, it will close a brutal stretch in which his team plays five road game in less than a month. Moreover, that run features trips to some of the game's toughest arenas, namely Vitoria-Gasteiz, Tel Aviv, Barcelona and both Athens-based clubs. If Fenerbahce can survive this period with a positive record and finish with a strong performance at Panathinaikos before hosting four of its next five games, it will position itself as a title contender once again.
Round 15: The last two champs get it on!
Fenerbahce will wrap up 2018 and the first half of the regular season when it hosts Real Madrid in Round 15 in what will be their first contest since last season's Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Championship Game. The stakes are always high when Fenerbahce and Madrid duel, with the two sides having squared off in the playoffs or Final Four in each of the past four seasons. Ulker Sports and Event Hall will surely be rocking when the past two EuroLeague champions get it on.
Round 28: A pre-playoff showdown
Two preseason championship favorites – and the 2016 EuroLeague finalists – will clash in the Russian capital when CSKA Moscow hosts Fenerbahce in Round 28. The backstories here are seemingly endless, including the close relationship between the teams' head coaches and their classic duels both won by the road team last season. The two teams had the best two records last season and this meeting could potentially play a major factor in deciding home-court advantages or playoff seedings.