Saski Baskonia will face Zalgiris Kaunas in their first EuroLeague game of the new season.
Zalgiris have continued to dominate the Lithuanian landscape in basketball. They have won the domestic league nine consecutive times. The last time they failed to win it was in 2010 when Rytas won it. Since the inception of the league in 1993, Zalgiris have been unable to win it just five times. In those five seasons, they finished in second place. However, they have not displayed similar dominance on the European stage.
Their only EuroLeague title came in 1999 when they beat Italian side Kinder Bologna in the final. Since then, Zalgiris have faltered in the competition. They finished third in 2018 after a long string of early exits. Last season Zalgiris they claimed the eighth spot in the regular season to sneak into the playoffs. Olympiacos also won 15 games, but Zalgiris pipped them due to a superior points difference. They faced Fenerbahce Beko in the first round of the playoffs.
The Turkish side claimed a 3-1 win in the series. After Fenerbahce won the opening game, Zalgiris leveled the series at 1-1. But they were unable to stop Fenerbahce in the next two games and crashed out of the competition. Zalgiris has seen the departure of many players in the offseason. The likes of Aaron White, Brandon Davies, and Leo Westermann are no longer at the club. As their replacements, Zalgiris have signed Alex Perez, Jock Landale, and Nigel Hayes. Martinas Geben has returned to the squad after a successful spell in Italy. Coach Sarunas Jasikevicius will head into his fourth season at the franchise.
As for Saski Baskonia, they had a similar season as far as the EuroLeague was concerned. They also won 15 games in the regular season and finished 7th in the table. Baskonia met Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow in the first round of the playoffs. CSKA won the first game 94-68, but Baskonia bounced back from the heavy defeat in Game 2. They won 78-68 to level the series at 1-1. CSKA took the series 3-1 from there, and they went on to claim the EuroLeague title last season.
Baskonia finished fifth in the Liga Endesa last season. Their last domestic title came in 2010. Last season they started slowly, due to which coach Pedro Martinez was sacked. Club icon Velimir Perasovic was appointed as his replacement. He is now in his third spell as a coach at Baskonia after spending a chunk of his playing career at the club. Captain Tornike Shengelia will be their star player this time, and he was in the All-Liga ACB and All-EuroLeague first teams in 2018.
Zalgiris Kaunas vs Saski Baskonia Betting Tips
The game will be a close one, but Zalgiris should have enough to get the win. Baskonia were awful on the road last season, and Zalgiris have home advantage in this one. The points difference will be under than 10 points, and Zalgiris should get their campaign off to a winning start.