With Thursday’s Euroleague draw, the schedule for the 2010-11 season was also determined. And while the rosters of the teams are just barely coming together and the FIBA World Championship is still something of a distant point on the horizon, BiE is nevertheless already looking forward to October and the tipping off of Euroleague play.
Here at the BallinEurope virtual offices, we’ve already marked the calendar for the following games.
Week 1: Real Madrid at Olympiacos. Opening day reunites the teams that tipped off the modern Euroleague in year 2000.
Week 1: TBD at Unicaja. It’s never too early to make a fearless prediction; in fact, calling it far far ahead of time just makes the prognosticating even more fearless. Thus, BiE’s first fearless prediction for Euroleague 2010-11 play, i.e. one qualifying team will upset Unicaja in Spain to start the season. Not so fearless concomitant prediction: the former team will be proclaimed an instant Cinderella squad, while Unicaja’s gradual decline will again be lamented.
Week 2: TBD at Partizan, Žalgiris Kaunas at Maccabi Tel Aviv. How did the two perpetual providers of standing-room-only crowds get into the same group, anyway? Home openers in Belgrade and Tel Aviv are always fantastic, so well worth the attention in week two.
Week 2: Unicaja at Real Madrid. The first (extra) meeting between ACB powers.
Week 4: AJ Milano at Valencia. And speaking of baloncesto again, Valencia starts the Euroleague season with three of four games at home; this early slate includes games vs. Panathinaikos, at Efes Pilsen, and vs. CSKA Moscow. With a lucky break or two, Valencia could be deemed “surprise of the Euroleague” by week four – of course, Valencia’ll need the early breaks with the hellish second half they’re facing.
Week 7: Panathinaikos at CSKA Moscow. Assuming Panathinaikos can improve on their dismal Euroleague championship-defending performance of 2009-10, this game will probably determine the Group D winner (or at least Group D alpha dog).
Week 8: Partizan Belgrade at Maccabi Tel Aviv is also certain to be a top-of-the-table clash, played against a red-hot background of devotional frenzy in Israel.
Week 10: Montepaschi Siena at FC Barcelona. Here’s to thinking Barcelona will be chasing its second consecutive undefeated Euroleague season by this game while Montepaschi fights for seeding.