Coming off its best EuroLeague campaign since it captured the 1999 title, Zalgiris Kaunas will be out to show that last season’s success was no fluke. The experience of a Final Four run makes Coach Sarunas Jasikevicius’s squad as dangerous as ever, though the departure of some of last season’s key players means a lot of work must be done to match their accomplishments. Let’s look at some of the big dates on Zalgiris’s schedule.
Round 3: Rematch from last season’s semis
Almost at the beginning of the season, Zalgiris will be welcoming Fenerbahce Istanbul to Kaunas for a rematch of last season’s semifinal in Belgrade. It will already be a tough test for Coach Jasikevicius’s team so early in the season and it could give some hints about Zalgiris’s level for this campaign. Zalgiris bested Fenerbahce in Istanbul last season, but lost at home and in Belgrade.
Round 7: Pangos’s grand return
The Kaunas fans will have a special night in Round 7 when one of the heroes from last season, Kevin Pangos, returns to the city, but this time wearing FC Barcelona Lassa’s jersey. He will surely receive a warm welcome, but once the ball starts bouncing, the rivalry will surface, just like on the benches with Sarunas Jasikevicius and Svetislav Pesic, as the former was a player on the team, coached by the latter, that won the EuroLeague title in 2003 for Barcelona.
Round 11: Playoff memories
One team that Zalgiris fans remember well from last season is surely Olympiacos Piraeus. These teams faced each other six times, including four playoff games, and Zalgiris won five of them en route to the Final Four. The Reds will travel to Lithuania with the goal of ending their losing form versus the Lithuanian champs. It will also be the first visit of one of Zalgiris’s main players from last season, Axel Toupane, to Kaunas wearing the red jersey of Olympiacos. It will be an emotional night for sure at the Zalgirio Arena.
Round 16: A classic European duel
Just after the mid-way point of the regular season, Zalgiris welcomes CSKA Moscow to Kaunas for the latest edition of the most classic duels in European basketball. The last time these two teams played saw Zalgiris come out on top to finish third in the Final Four. However, CSKA is a perennial title contender and its visit is always a reason to celebrate and to worry at the same time. The last time they met at Zalgirio Arena, the hosts pulled out an 85-73 win, but it was in Round 29 with CSKA already having won the regular season. This time, in the thick of the action, this electrifying duel will be a little different.
Round 27: An emotional trip for Saras
Approaching the end of the regular season, Zalgiris will make a tough trip to Tel Aviv to face Maccabi FOX. Of course, Coach Jasikevicius is an idol for the ages in the Israeli city, and he will be received as such by the Maccabi fans. However, at this stage of the season, both teams could be playing for big things and friendships will be forgotten once the players take the floor. In any case, a game between these teams is always a highlight in any EuroLeague season, so buckle up for a marquee matchup.