The 2015-16 Eurocup season has arrived! Action tips off with the 10-game round-robin regular season. Split into two conferences, the teams are divided into six groups of six teams each. Among the 36 clubs, there are four former champions - which have combined to win the competition seven times - along with last-year’s runner-up and another past finalist. The excitement and the long road to the title that also assures a place in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague the following season tips off with two games on Tuesday and the remaining 16 on Wednesday.
In an all-German showdown in Group A on Wednesday, Telekom Baskets Bonn hosts EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Interestingly, these two teams already played each other in the Eurocup three seasons ago and split road victories. Last season in the German League, they split home wins. In a high-profile clash of two teams that return to the Eurocup after a year away, Dominion Bilbao Basket welcomes JSF Nanterre. In two previous home games against French teams, Bilbao has won twice. Also on Wednesday, Union Olimpija Ljubljana plays host to newcomer Dolomiti Energia Trento. For its European debut, Trento travels 400 kilometers northeast to the Slovenian capital, where Olimpija will try to continue its streak of winning season openers in each of the past three seasons.
Last season’s runner-up was the first to see action in Group B. Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas outlastede Le Mans Sarthe Basket 74-79 on the road win in the teams’ Eurocup season opener. Gran Canaria led for much of the second half until Le Mans rallied Le Mans late to lead 73-71. But Eulis Baez saved Gran Canaria with a clutch offensive rebound. Baez led six Gran Canaria scorers in double figures with 13 points and 8 rebounds. Two Wednesday games in the group feature local derbies. MGP Riesen Ludwigsburg is back to the Eurocup after eight years as it hosts fellow German side ALBA Berlin. The last two seasons in the German League, these two teams have split home victories. In an all-Italian showdown, Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia hosts newcomer Enel Basket Brindisi. The two teams faced off as recently as the Italian League playoff quarterfinals in May, when Reggiana won the best-of-five series 3-2.
The Eurocup season opened with a dramatic contest that wasn’t decided until the closing seconds and saw the winningest team in competition history claim victory. Valencia Basket edged SLUC Nancy 71-74 on a late Sam Van Rossom three-pointer. It capped an exciting fourth quarter that featured five lead changes and seven ties and never saw either team lead by more than a basket. Bojan Dubljevic led the winners with 13 points and Van Rossom finished with 12. On Wednesday, ratiopharm Ulm welcomes newcomer Umana Reyer Venice, which makes its first appearance in a European competition in more than three decades. For Ulm, this is a third Eurocup campaign, and previously it reached the quarterfinals once and the eighthfinals once. Also on Wednesday, CAI Zaragoza takes on Proximus Spirou Charleroi in the first-ever meeting between the two teams. Spirou has not played on Spanish soil in more than a decade.
Newcomer Trabzonspor Medical Park hosts Aris Thessaloniki in a contest of two clubs with large and passionate fan bases. Not only is this the first meeting between them, but Trabzonspor has never played a Greek club, while Aris has not played in Turkey in seven years. Former champion and perennial Eurocup contender Unics Kazan opens its season at home against the debutante Steau CSM Eximbank Bucharest. The hosts are appearing in the Eurocup for the ninth time in the past 10 years and have played a competition-best 133 games in that period, 23 more than the second best team. In a battle of two classic Eurocup teams, perennial Montenegrin champion Buducnost VOLI Podgorica welcomes Banvit Bandirma. These two teams have combined to play 166 Eurocup games between them, and for each this is sixth consecutive season in the competition. They have played each other six times in that span, with Banvit holding a 4-2 edge after sweeping their Last 32 series last season.
In a high-profile game in the Lithuanian capital, Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius hosts Besiktas JK Istanbul. This is the third time Besiktas is visiting Rytas and in both of the previous times the Turkish side pulled out a road win/ Besiktas owns a 3-1 all-time head-to-head record against Rytas. PAOK Thessaloniki welcomes Hungarian champion Szolnoki Olaj, which arrives in Greece for the first time in 20 years. Meanwhile, PAOK has never lost to a team from Hungary, having won all six previous contests. In an all-Russian showdown, newcomer Avtodor Saratov takes on Zenit St. Petersburg. The two teams played last season in the VTB United League and split home wins.
Neptunas Klaipeda opens its Eurocup campaign at home against Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul. The two teams faced one another in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague regular season last year, and both won at home by double-digit margins. However, both teams have undergone many changes since those clashes, and will field very different teams compared to a year ago. AEK Athens welcomes Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd. The game marks a return to the Eurocup for AEK for the first time since 2006-07, and this is the club's first official game against an opponent from Russia in more than 13 years. In another high-profile match, Nizhny Novgorod hosts former Eurocup champ and reigning Israeli champion Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem. It is a rematch of 2014 Eurocup quarterfinals, which saw Nizhny beat Jerusalem at home 88-72 to overcome a 3-point deficit and win the home-and-away series.