If you’re a fan of International basketball, this is the greatest time of the year as in countries across globe basketball leagues have started play or are about to start. The summer has been filled with incredible International competition from the EuroBasket 2013 Qualifier, Youth World Championships, 3×3 World Tour and World Championship, and the premier basketball tournament, the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Now focus turns from International competition to the lengthly league schedules. We highlight a few key leagues that have played their first rounds and then list some that are set to get underway.
Tipping off this past weekend included Spain’s Liga Endesa, considered by many to be the third best league in the world behind the NBA and Euroleague. The first round of matches saw a massive upset when Valladolid traveled to Barcelona to take on the two-time running league champions FC Barcelona and escape with a 78-71 victory. The Barcelona loss is significant on many levels, not least of which is the fact that the hosts have won the Liga Endesa two years in a row, but also because Valladolid was to have been relegated to LEB Oro for the 2012-13 season (they finished last in Liga Endesa in the 2011-12 season with an 8-26 record). When Menorca Basquet decided to dissolve their club this summer (they were being promoted from LEB Oro to Liga Endesa), Valladolid was able to hold their spot in the Liga Endesa remained. Valladolid is reported to have one of the smallest budgets in the league as well. The league has been dominated by Real Madrid, with 30 titles and having been runners-up 12 times since 1957; FC Barcelona, 17 titles and 17 runners-up; and Joventut Badalona, 4 titles and 10 runner-ups.
Also getting underway recently was the Adriatic League, which was won in 2011-12 by Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, but they decided to leave the league this season and were replaced by Hungarian squad Szolnok. The Adriatic League, also known as Liga ABA, features teams from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montegegro, Serbia, Slovenia and Hungary. Maccabi blew through the league last season, compiling a 24-1 regular season record then won their semi-final game over Buducnost by 22 (82-60) and the Championship game over Cedevita by 10 (87-77).
Italy’s Lega Basket Serie A tipped off this weekend and sees six-time defending champions Montepaschi Siena currently at the top of the league at 2-0 (they played their round 2 game as the first game of the season on Sept. 26). Montepaschi has won the Serie A title every year since the 2006-07 season.
The British Basketball League (BBL) is on their second week and sees last season’s champion, the Newcastle Eagles, sitting on top of the standings currently at 3-0. They finished the 2011-12 campaign 23-7, one game up on eventual league runner-up Leicester Riders, who is also undefeated (2-0) in the current season’s schedule.
The Argentina LigaA is on their fifth round, with last season’s champions, Penarol sitting in the middle of the South Group at 3-2. Both Argentino (South) and Libertad (North) have been perfect thus far, compiling 5-0 records and leading their respective divisions thus far.
The Ukraine Superleague started this weekend and got their first two rounds completed. Last season BC Donetsk came out as the league champions with a 4-0 series win over Azovmash Mariupol. Donetsk recently competed in the Euroleague Qualifier, but was knocked out in a first round loss to French squad Le Mans. Budivelnyk Kyiv finished second in regular season play, but was eliminated during the semi-finals, 4-0, by Azovmash. Donetsk, Budivelnyk and Azovmash won their first Superleague contests this weekend.
The Polish Basketball League got underway this weekend with their first round of games. Last season’s championship series went down to the a seventh game with Asseco Prokom defeating Trefl Sopot 76-68. Both squads successfully got out of round one of the 2012-13 campaign with wins.
The Euroleague will officially tip-off on Oct. 11, but they’ve already conducted the first leg of competition with the Euroleague Qualifier recently concluding. Manpooro Cantu winning the qualifier at home against Le Mans Sarthe Basket to join Group A. The Euroleague is made up of four groups of six teams that will play a round robin 10-game regular season schedule from October 11 through December 14, 2012. At the end of the regular season, the top four teams of each group advance to the “Top 16″, where they are divided into two groups based on their finishing position in the Regular season. During the Top 16 round, from December 27 through April 5, the teams will play a round robin format in their groups to play 14 games. The top four teams from each group advance to the Playoff to be held from April 9 through April 29th. The Playoffs are a best of five series with the winners from each group advancing to the Final Four, which will be held at the O2 Arena in London from May 10 through May 12. Last season, Olympiacos Piraeus defeated CSKA Moscow in the Championship, 62-61 in Istabul.
Other leagues getting ready to start, with their start date and 2011-12 Champion (this list is not 100% complete):
Holland Eredivisie – Oct. 6th – Den Bosch
Hungary A Division – Oct. 4th – Szolnok
Austria A Bundesliga – Oct. 5th – Klostemeub
Czech Republic Mattoni NBL – Oct. 3rd – Nymburk
Romania Divizia A – Oct. 6th – Asesoft Ploieşti
Sweden Ligan – Oct. 4th – Norrkoping
Greece Basket League – Oct. 6th – Olympiacos Piraeus
Baltic League – Oct. 2 – Žalgiris Kaunas
VTB League – Oct. 8 – CSKA Moscow
Finland Korisliiga – Oct. 3rd – Kataja
France ProA – Oct. 6th – Le Mans
Australia’s National Basketball League – Oct. 7th – New Zealand Breakers
Germany’s BBL – Oct. 3rd – Brose Basket
Belgium Ethias – Oct. 6th – Oostende
Israel Winner League – Oct. 14th – Maccabi Tel Aviv
NBA – Oct. 30th – Miami Heat