Reigning Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion Anadolu Efes will have its work cut out as it attempts to defend the crown. While every team will bring its best when they face the champs, some games will be tougher than others. Here are five games that fans of both teams will surely have marked on their calendars.
FULL TEAM SCHEDULE
Round 1: A rivalry in the making
These sides played a memorable playoff series last season with Efes dominated at first before Real Madrid had a pair of come-from-behind wins at home to even it. Then Efes survived a thriller in game 5 to reach the Final Four. In their first clash since then, Real will be hungry to establish itself by downing the champs at home, while Efes looks to keep Los Blancos under its thumb with s season-opening victory in the Spanish capital.
Round 2: The last two champions meet
Not only did these teams square off in the 2019 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Championship Game, but they played a thriller in last season's semifinals, where CSKA Moscow rallied from a 21-point deficit for a shot to win it in the closing seconds before Anadolu Efes Istanbul prevailed and went on to win the championship. In between, they traded blowouts with CSKA winning by 35 in Moscow and Efes by 30 in Istanbul. Something exciting seems to always happen when Efes and CSKA meet and this time it will be Efes's home opener.
Round 8: Facing the Zenit test
Though Efes made history last season, it came up empty every time it faced Zenit St Petersburg. Coach Ergin Ataman’s side was held to 69 points in an opening-night home loss and Zenit made it a season sweep in Round 21 in Russia. The champs remember those games well and will be motivated to exact revenge in 2021-22.
Round 12: The Istanbul derby
The rivalry between the two strongest teams in Turkey runs deep and the matchups between Efes and Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul show that regularly. Last season, Fenerbahce beat Efes the first time they played before Efes roared for a 74-106 rout in the Asian side of the city in Round 26. Before last season, Fenerbahce had reached five consecutive Final Fours. Now Efes is on top after winning the EuroLeague and then sweeping Fenerbahce in the Turkish League finals. There may be fireworks when these teams meet again.
Round 13: Championship game rematch
FC Barcelona had the best record in the league last season, but has lost four straight games against Efes, including the 2021 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Championship Game. The defending champs will be eager to show their dominance by extending that streak, making the championship game rematch must-see basketball. Especially because these two enter this season with lofty goals once again.