Zalgiris Kaunas begins a new era this season under Coach Martin Schiller. As always the Lithuanian champion will fight hard to challenge for a playoff berth. Here are five key games for the club.
Round 1: Another chapter in the rivalry with the Reds
The season starts with the resumption of a fierce new rivalry as Zalgiris travels to face Olympiacos in Piraeus. The Lithuanian champs have enjoyed a great deal of success against the Reds in recent years, winning eight of their last 10 meetings, including a memorable playoff triumph in 2018 and a thumping 94-69 home win last season. It will also be a special game for center Augustine Rubit, who will make his Zalgiris debut against his former club.
Round 4: Efes arrives for the home opener
After starting the season with three consecutive road trips, the Round 4 visit of Anadolu Efes will finally be the first home game for Zalgiris – and that also means a first chance to impress the locals for Coach Martin Schiller. Having started his coaching career as an assistant at Artland Dragons in Germany in 2010, Schiller now makes the big step up to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and there could be no better way to make a strong early impression than by toppling last season’s league leader.
Round 9: Taking on its oldest rival, CSKA
The greatest historical rival for Zalgiris is CSKA Moscow and for many years the Lithuanian giant's attempts to defeat its old enemy came to naught; CSKA won 17 consecutive meetings between 2003 and 2016. That then changed with Zalgiris taking three of the next four, including a memorable victory at the 2018 Final Four in Belgrade. But CSKA has bounced back by winning the last three games between the teams. Zalgiris will be anxious to stop that from becoming another long sequence when CSKA comes to town in Round 9.
Round 12: Saras makes his return to Kaunas
There will be no more emotional reunion this season than in Round 12 when Zalgiris welcomes FC Barcelona and former head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius. After being born in Kaunas, finishing his playing career with Zalgiris and then returning for a successful four-year stint on the team's bench, Jasikevicius has regularly stated that Zalgiris is his ‘club for life’ and tears will be brought to many eyes – including probably Saras’s own – when he returns to his hometown as an opposing coach for the first time.
Round 26: A battle of three-point aces in Madrid
This trip to Madrid will bring together two of the league’s most prolific long-range shooting experts. Zalgiris star Arturas Milaknis heads into the new season with the sixth-most career three-pointers out of all active EuroLeague players (365), and he boasts a better conversion rate (42.2%) than all of those above him except Real veteran Jaycee Carroll (42.33%).