-- The New Euroleague Begins! --
The New Euroleague begins in just a few hours and AGONAsport.com brings you a preview of the new season. Real Madrid and Olympiacos tip-off Europe's premier basketball competition for the 2016-2017 year in Spain at 3:00 PM (EST).
New Format: Go ahead and forget the Euroleague you know! The format for the 2016-2017 season has completely changed from previous seasons. The Regular Season will consist of 16 teams (previously 24) that will play in a single group (a league). There are not multiple groups nor a Top 16 round. Each team will play the other twice, home and away, with the top 8 teams at the end of the season advancing to the Euroleague Playoffs (based off number of wins). The playoffs will consist of a best of 5 series with the higher ranked teams earning home court advantage. The four Playoff winners will advance to the Final-4 (single game knockouts) in Istanbul, where the Euroleague Champion will be crowned. More on the format here...
The Unknown: The new format will raise many questions for Europe’s best basketball clubs. The first round (previously the Regular season) was a breeze for most teams while the Top 16 posed a small challenge for the better basketball clubs. These first two “easy” rounds have been eliminated, elevating the difficulty of the competition. Now, every team will play the other in a long, 30-game season for a spot in the playoffs. The best of the best will meet in the regular season (in addition to the post season) as opposed to the Playoffs or Final Four in previous seasons.
Final-4: The Sinan Erdem Dome (home of Efes) in Istanbul will host the 2017 Euroleague Final-4, despite the current chaotic situation in Turkey. The dates are scheduled for May 19-21. The last time the Final-4 was held in Istanbul was when Olympiacos pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in Championship game history, with a buzzer-beater from Printezis, to defeat CSKA Moscow and win the 2012 Euroleague Title.
The Teams: The 16 teams that will play in this year’s Euroleague are: Anadolu Efes (Turkey), Laboral Kutxa (Spain), Brose Bamberg (Germany), Crvena Zvezda (Serbia), CSKA Moscow (Russia), Darussafaka (Turkey), Armani Milano (Italy), Barcelona (Spain), Fenerbahce (Turkey), Galatasaray (Turkey), Maccabi Tel-Aviv (Israel), Olympiacos (Greece), Panathinaikos (Greece), Real Madrid (Spain), UNICS Kazan (Russia), and Zalgiris (Lithuania).
Olympiacos: The Erythrolefki are one of the few clubs to have made minimal changes to their roster in the offseason. Olympiacos was hurt by many injuries and bad decisions in last year’s Euroleague, where they were disappointingly eliminated in the Top 16. At minimum, Olympiacos will look for a spot in the playoffs (possibly with home court advantage) while the Final Four will be the ultimate goal for the Greek Champions. The additions of Erick Green and Khem Birch will strengthen Olympiacos’ roster with the likes of Spanoulis and Printezis taking the “lead” role in the squad. Follow Olympiacos in the Euroleague at AGONAsport.com!
Panathinaikos: The Prasini will be without their long-standing captain Dimitris Diamantidis after his retirement at the end of last season. After a 4-year absence from the Final Four, the 6-time European Champions will have their eyes on Istanbul for a chance at European glory. Last season, Panathinaikos was eliminated in the Playoffs where they were swept by Laboral Kutxa. Panathinaikos completed one of the biggest signings in European basketball during the summer with Yiannis Bourousis, who was the best center in the Euroleague last season. Along with Calathes, Bourousis will look to lead Panathinaikos in the this year’s Euroleague. Follow Panathinaikos in the Euroleague at AGONAsport.com!
Favorites: The defending champions, CSKA Moscow, will be the favorites to win this year’s Euroleague. Dimitris Itoudis’ side have the ability to complete the repeat and be crowned once again Champions of Europe. Last year’s finalists, Fenerbahce will also be a heavy contender for this year’s title. The likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Olympiacos, and Panathinaikos will set high goals for the Final-4 while Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Galatasaray, Anadolu Efes, Laboral Kutxa, Darussafaka, and Armani Milano will be content with a place in the playoffs. The “weaker” teams such as Crvena Zvezda, Bamberg, UNICS Kazan, and Zalgiris will hope to pull off a big surprise in this year’s competition while showing that they belong in Europe’s premier basketball event.