For every Turkish Airlines EuroLeague team, a trip to Kaunas to visit Zalgiris is a special one. Playing Zalgiris on the road is one of the toughest, but at the same time one of the most enjoyable experiences in basketball. Zalgiris enters the season with hopes of contending for a place in the EuroLeague Playoffs once again, but the road there is filled with intriguing games. Here are some of the games to circle on the Zalgiris calendar.
FULL TEAM SCHEDULE
ROUND 2: In search of maiden win
Zenit is the only team that Zalgiris has never defeated in the EuroLeague. In four games between them entering this season, Zenit has as many wins. Two of those decisions were in overtime back in the 2019-20 season and Zenit swept Zalgiris last season again. Moreover, Zalgiris has never scored more than 75 points in a game against Zenit, which snuck into the EuroLeague Playoffs as the No. eight seed last season in a similar way Zalgiris did in 2019. Those are among the many reasons why this intriguing matchup is one to watch.
ROUND 8: Facing his hometown club
In head-to-head meetings between Zalgiris and ALBA, a home team has won each game until last season when Zalgiris pulled out a 71-74 win in the German capital. Zalgiris has not lost on home floor against ALBA this century, and there has not been much out of the ordinary in their games until this summer when long-time ALBA team captain Niels Giffey left the team where he grew up and joined Zalgiris. He scored 10 points in ALBA uniform when visiting Kaunas last season, but this time he will be in Zalgiris jersey and facing his hometown club for the very first time in his career.
ROUND 19: Welcoming a friend
Last season Zalgiris had three last-second victories. Likely the most improbable one was at home against Olympiacos in a game that Zalgiris finished scoring the last 9 points – a run capped with a steal and a game-winning fastbreak layup by Thomas Walkup. Now, Walkup will be wearing the Reds jersey and returning to Kaunas where he spent the last three years. However, welcoming a former fan and locker room favorite will not stop Zalgiris from trying to continue its run against the Greek powerhouse, which it beat 10 times in the last 12 games.
ROUND 29: Saras comes to town
Last season Zalgiris prepared a warm welcome for Euroleague Basketball Legend Sarunas Jasikevicius. The Barcelona head coach was emotional in his return to his hometown while a tribute video was playing on the big screen. Barcelona went on to win 62-73, however, what that December night last season unfortunately lacked were – the fans. One hopes that next season will allow fans in the stands, which would make for a more memorable Jasikevicius return to Kaunas as he brings mighty Barcelona to town. Facing his hometown club in front of the hometown fans would be a first for Jasikevicius as a coach.
ROUND 32: Looking to end a long streak
It’s a rivalry dating back to the old USSR, but had some extra drama in recent years as three of the last four games in Moscow have been decided by 3 points or fewer – and the two of those in overtime. But CSKA won each one of those, just like it has triumphed every single time it hosted Zalgiris in competition history. Zalgiris is 0-14 when it visits CSKA all-time in European competition. Add the intrigue of Zalgiris top scorer Marius Grigonis signing with CSKA this summer and it must be one of Zalgiris’s most anticipated games this season.
Seen at: Euroleague.net