After reclaiming the 7DAYS EuroCup trophy, Valencia Basket is back in the big-time, returning to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague after a one-year absence. The Spanish side's previous foray into the competition resulted in a somewhat disappointing 12-18 record after a season ruined by injuries, but fans at the Fonteta will be hoping to see their team mount a serious playoffs challenge this time around, knowing it could keep them in the Euroleague for another season at least. These games could heavily influence Valencia's comeback campaign.
Round 3: Old friends meet
Last season, Brock Motum and Tibor Pleiss were teammates as Anadolu Efes Istanbul went all the way to the continental title game. This time, the two big men will be direct opponents inside the paint following Motum's summer switch from Istanbul to Valencia. It will be an intriguing clash and there will be no lack of knowledge for the home side about Pleiss's strengths. In addition to playing with Motum last season, Pleiss also spent the 2017-18 season with Valencia, which has never lost at home to Efes in the EuroLeague.
Round 14: The "other" Spanish derby
While Spain's two biggest cities have their clasico, this "other" Spanish derby between Valencia and KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz is also highly significant and could prove pivotal in the race for the playoffs. Baskonia is far more established in the EuroLeague but Valencia has been the more regular, recent winner of titles, taking the Spanish league crown two years ago in addition to a trio of EuroCup triumphs in the last decade. Baskonia coach Velimir Perasovic and Valencia veteran Fernando San Emeterio are among many to have swapped sides in recent years, adding another dimension to a more than meaningful matchup.
Round 23: Coastal rivalry
Valencia will play six of its 32 regular season games against fellow Spanish sides, and realistically it will probably be necessary to finish above at least one of those teams to secure a playoffs spot. A retooled Barcelona will be tough opposition to overcome, but this is the closest thing to a "local derby" between Spanish clubs, as Barcelona makes the three-hour journey down the Mediterranean coast with three former Valencia players in tow: Pau Ribas, Victor Claver and Pierre Oriola. Rest assured that by this time, in the heat of the playoffs race, any victory over its near northern neighbor would be worth its weight in gold for Valencia.
Round 26: Nando pays a visit
Nando De Colo has come a long way since he made his EuroLeague debut back in 2010, but Fenerbahce's summer recruit will never forget the club he represented at the time: Valencia Basket. The two-time champion and 2015-16 league MVP has retained a great deal of affection for the club where he spent three seasons in the early stages of his career, in no small part due to his wife being a native of the city. Valencia fans will relish the opportunity of seeing their former favorite back in La Fonteta in his new Fenerbahce colors, but they'll relish it even more if he can be beaten.
Round 28: Late-season shootout?
One of the most exciting – and longest – games of the modern EuroLeague era came in November 2017 when Valencia was defeated at home by AX Armani Exchange Milan in a 98-103 double-overtime thriller. That stunning game saw the two teams combine for a total of 30 three-pointers. But Valencia had its revenge later in the season with a similarly explosive shoot-out, winning 89-93 in Italy as the two teams combined for 26 three-pointers. Will history repeat itself by producing another high-scoring thriller as Valencia and Milan meet again? The result could prove pivotal for both teams.