Having come so close to silverware by advancing to last season’s 7DAYS EuroCup Finals, ALBA Berlin has now stepped up to the highest level of European basketball. This will be ALBA’s first season in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague since 2015, and the squad led by veteran coach Aito Garcia Reneses will be determined to show they belong – starting right from the opening tip-off.
Round 1: Berlin greets the new season
After a four-year absence from the competiton, ALBA Berlin hosts its first home game of the new EuroLeague campaign with the visit of Zenit St Petersburg. And if you want to know how much belonging once more among Europe's elite means to fans in the German capital, just take a look back at the spectacular atmosphere created by 13,000 ALBA supporters in last season's 7DAYS EuroCup Finals meeting with Valencia Basket. This is a club going places and determined to make a flying start, so expect the decibel count to be sky-high as ALBA aims to quickly establish Mercedes-Benz Arena as a formidable fortress.
Round 3: Coach Aito goes home
This meeting will be an undeniably special occasion for veteran ALBA coach Aito Garcia Reneses, who will be returning to face the club where he forged his stellar coaching reputation many years ago. Having finished his playing career with FC Barcelona, Garcia Reneses later came back to the club in the coaching hotseat in 1985 and – over the course of three separate spells in charge until 2001 – oversaw a glorious era of success, winning nine Spanish League titles along with silverware on the European stage in both the Saporta and Korac Cups. Barca fans are forever grateful, and their former idol is sure to receive a warm welcome from the Palau Blaugrana faithful.
Round 7: ALBA-Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv (first meeting)
ALBA fans with long memories will have already circled this season's first meeting with Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv as a chance to settle an old score. Back in 2015, the German team's last EuroLeague campaign came to an agonizing end with a home loss to the Israeli giant in the final round of the Top 16. Victory would have been enough to secure a playoffs place for ALBA, but Maccabi – which was the reigning EuroLeague champion at the time – surged to a 64-73 victory behind a remarkable performance from Devin Smith, who made 7-of-10 three point attempts on the way to 28 points.
Round 14: Cross-country derby
As the two biggest and most powerful cities in Germany, there is always a lot at stake whenever ALBA and FC Bayern Munich go head to head – despite the 600-kilometre distance between them. Bayern makes the journey north in the knowledge that it has exerted domestic supremacy in recent years, winning back to back German League titles. But ALBA will be determined to defend its home court to claim "local" bragging rights, and the deep mutual knowledge which exists between the two sets of players and coaching crews is bound to create a fascinating and hugely competitive contest.
Round 32: EuroCup Finals rematch
The scent of sweet revenge will be in the air for home fans as Valencia Basket travels to the German capital for the first time since conquering ALBA in the 7Days EuroCup Finals at the end of last season. It was a memorable series, with all three games being taken by the home team including a thrilling overtime victory for ALBA in Game 2. But that ended up counting for little as Valencia took the series 2-1, so ALBA will be looking to set the record straight this time around. It will help if Peyton Siva revives the form he showed during that series after averaging 15 points and 5.7 assists per game.