Panathinaikos OPAP Athens had a transition season last year with major changes in the bench mid-season. Now, with a new coaching staff in place, the Greens will look to repeat the Playoffs berth and push to take it a step further to try to return to the Final Four.
Round 3: Paying a visit to an old friend
Panathinaikos had some of its best battles against teams coached by Ettore Messina, and now that he is back to work for AX Armani Exchange Milan, it is time to relive that rivalry. Panathinaikos won three of its six EuroLeague titles against Messina-coached teams - Virtus Bologna in 2002, CSKA Moscow in 2007 and 2009. Messina's CSKA stopped Panathinaikos in its last Final Four appearance in 2012 and prevented the Greens from returning to the big event, winning Game 5 of the 2014 playoffs. Messina is back in the EuroLeague, five years later, and his visit to Athens will be a highlight of the season.
Round 12: The Greek derby lands in OAKA again
The Greek derby is one of the most intense, anticipated and exciting showdowns in continental basketball, and definitely one of the games that every Turkish Airlines EuroLeague fan looks up in the calendar to mark it down. A little bit of everything has happened between both teams since the EuroLeague new format was chosen - Olympiacos won both games in the 2016-17 season, both teams went on to split wins after that - on the road in the 2017-18 season, and at home last season. There are players in Panathinaikos and Olympiacos that have worn both teams' jerseys, which adds even more anticipation to this great, one-of-a-kind rivalry.
Round 14: The King is back in Athens
It will always be special for Panathinaikos to face legendary head coach Zeljko Obradovic. Indeed, Coach Obradovic led Panathinaikos to unprecedented success. In 13 seasons with the club, Obradovic helped Panathinaikos win 11 Greek League championships, seven Greek Cup titles and five Turkish Airlines EuroLeague crowns. That's 23 titles out of a maximum 39. No other team won more EuroLeague titles in the 2000s, with Obradovic coaching the team for that full decade. The game between Panathinaikos and Fenerbahce will be especially emotionally in Athens - a giant banner with Obradovic's face and the legend "The King Is Back" says it all.
Round 16: A playoffs matchup with revenge flavor
Panathinaikos and Madrid have a long sports rivalry that only got stronger in the last couple of seasons. Both teams faced each other in the 2018 EuroLeague playoffs. Panathinaikos won Game 1 at home, 95-67, and Nick Calathes set a new playoffs assists record (16) but Real ended up winning the series and lifting the trophy. Last season, Real and Panathinaikos met again in the playoffs and the Spanish powerhouse prevailed again, making the most of its home-court advantage. Real has beaten Panathinaikos in its last eight games, so expect a proud team like the Greens to step up and do anything they can to stop that losing streak.
Round 28: The defending champs visit Athens
Two of the winningest teams in European basketball history, Panathinaikos and CSKA, has crossed paths in the higher stages of the competitions for the last two decades. Panathinaikos downed CSKA three times in Final Four action - in the 1996 semifinals and above all, in the 2007 and 2009 EuroLeague Championship games. CSKA prevailed in the 2012 EuroLeague semifinals and in the 2014 and 2015 playoffs. Last season, Panathinaikos became the second team in three years to beat CSKA twice in regular season action - 96-84 in Athens and 77-78 in Moscow on a wild game-winning three-pointer by Nick Calathes. In addition, former Panathinaikos floor general Mike James joined the champs this summer. Expect more great games from them!