The Euroleague Basketball World Tour will take a major step next autumn when, for the first time ever, two Turkish Airlines Euroleague powerhouses will face off against each other in two preseason games on North American soil.
6-time European Champs Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and 3-time European champs EA7 Emporio Armani Milan will bring the devotion and passion that characterizes the Euroleague Basketball brand to North American basketball fans at two of the most symbolic basketball arenas in the world.
The first of the Euro Classic games will be played at 7 pm (CT) on Thursday, October 1, at the iconic United Center in Chicago, marking the first time that any Euroleague team has ever appeared there. Three days later, on 12:30 pm (ET) of Sunday, October 4, Maccabi and Milan will battle in New York City at the ‘Mecca’ of basketball, Madison Square Garden.
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Milan enjoy one of Europe’s most enduring rivalries. In 2014, Maccabi dramatically defeated Milan in a best-of-five playoff series to advance to the Final Four and eventually win the Euroleague title. In 1987 and 1988, Milan beat Maccabi in consecutive championship games that featured legends such as Bob McAdoo, Mike D’Antoni, Dino Meneghin, Mickey Berkowitz, Doron Jamchi and Kevin Magee, amongst others.
"After many years of sending our teams to the United States on the Euroleague Basketball World Tour, we are very excited about the opportunity for two of them to play each other there for the first time," Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball President and CEO, said. "Americans know their basketball, which is precisely why we are sure they will like what they see of the Euroleague's unique style of play. Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and EA7 Emporio Armani Milan are two of the many Euroleague clubs that are steeped in history, but they also play the kind of basketball that we are sure will be to the liking of fans in Chicago and New York."
These two games will be part of the Euroleague Basketball World Tour 2015, marking the 13th consecutive preseason in which Euroleague teams have travelled far from Europe to play. Those trips have taken Euroleague teams to three other continents - North America, South America and Asia - to play exhibition and cup tournament games with opponents from China, Australia, the United States, Brazil, Canada and Taiwan. The games in Chicago and New York, however, will mark the first time that Euroleague teams will play each other abroad.
For Maccabi Tel Aviv, a flagship club that has forged a strong tradition of playing preseason games outside of Europe, the game in New York City will mark its third appearance in Madison Square Garden, after having played in front of packed arenas against the New York Knicks in 2007 and 2009. The team has recently opened an office in New York City as part of its global expansion plans.
“Maccabi Tel Aviv is thrilled to add another exciting chapter to its long history of play in the US, and to continue its leading role in promoting the globalization of basketball,” Danny Federman, General Manager of Maccabi Tel Aviv said. “We always see thousands of our fans come out to our games in the US, as was the case this past October when we played in Brooklyn against the Nets and in Cleveland against the Cavs. We’re happy to present a chance for American basketball fans, Maccabi fans, and the strong Jewish-American communities in New York and Chicago to see us in their hometowns.”
The games will mark the second US appearance of Milan, following the club's participation in the former McDonald's Tournament in Milwaukee in 1987.
"As a club we have a tradition of strong relationships with US basketball,” Flavio Portaluppi, President of EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, said. “Five members of the Springfield Hall of Fame have also been members of our team. So we feel this historical step is consistent with our values and our past. We are excited to bring our team to two of the greatest arenas in the world and share with American fans and with the many members of the Italian-American community the opportunity to see what Olimpia basketball is all about. Hopefully we'll make our owner Giorgio Armani and all our Milan fans proud of the way we'll represent them."
Tickets for the Euro Classic games can be purchased through TicketMaster or at the Madison Square Garden/United Center Box Office. Tickets go on sale in Chicago on May 10th, and in New York on May 31st, the day of the Israeli Day Parade in Manhattan.