By Amy Samin
Tonight (Thursday) Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv will hit a major milestone, facing their 100th opponent in Europe, when they take on Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul of Turkey, against whom they have never played, in the first game of the 2014 Euroleague Top 16.
Maccabi started the current Euroleague season having played against 98 different opponents from 28 countries in various European competition frameworks since the club first began participating in such events. In this year’s regular season, they met Lokomotiv Kuban of Russia for the first time, and tonight in the familiar Abdi Pekçi Sports Hall in Istanbul, they will take on a brand-new opponent, Galatasaray of Turkey. Incidentally, on 13 February Maccabi will meet yet another team they have never faced before, Bayern Munich of Germany, making it three new opponents for Maccabi in one year.
Of the 99 opponents prior to tonight’s game, only 11 have a winning record against Maccabi, and there is only one team against whom Maccabi has yet to claim a single victory – Bulgarian team Academic Sofia, who defeated Maccabi in both of the two games they played against one another, during the 1958-59 season.
This is Maccabi’s 50th season playing in the best league in Europe. In addition, Maccabi played for two years in the European Champion’s Cup (1967 and 1970), and one year in the Kora? Cup (1994). With those three seasons’ opponents factored in, Galatasaray will be Maccabi’s 105th opponent in Europe.
The team Maccabi has faced more than any other is Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid – 47 meetings between the teams so far – with two more contests in the offing in the coming Top 16 round. The other teams Maccabi has played against most often include Barcelona (33), Panathinaikos (32), and CSKA Moscow (29), who Maccabi will also play in the Top 16.