Credit: AFP - Scanpix | Basketnews edit
Credit AFP - Scanpix | Basketnews edit

With the global pandemic hitting the teams like never before, EuroLeague faces the challenging task of rescheduling matches during a difficult time. Round 19 was postponed altogether, and there are only 4 matches left in Round 20 now as well.

Basketball fans throughout Europe have been left without top-tier competition for almost two weeks. Is this a new situation? Not necessarily.

Let's take a look at the EuroLeague history of mid-season breaks and how long, why, and when the fans were left without basketball in the previous years.

After a split between FIBA and EuroLeague Basketball, the EuroLeague we know now started its modern journey in 2000. However, not all the best teams played in the first season.

Euroleague powerhouses like Panathinaikos Athens, Ulker Istanbul (now known as Fenerbahce), CSKA Moscow, Montepaschi Siena, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Partizan Belgrade, and ALBA Berlin participated in the SuproLeague that year.

The tournament started with the Regular Season - Top 16 - Playoffs - Final Four format that lived for 16 years up until the 2016-17 season. The first season featured a system of 4 groups of 6 teams in the regular season.

EuroLeague fans were often left without basketball during the first four years. There were numerous times when spectators had to endure two weeks or more without their favorite sport on TV.

Euroleague breaks during the first three seasons:

No. Season Rounds Start date End date Length of the break
1 2000-01 Round 5 - Round 6 2000/11/16 2000/12/06 3 weeks
2 2000-01 Round 8 - Round 9 2000/12/21 2001/01/10 3 weeks
3 2001-02 Round 6 - Round 7 2001/11/15 2001/12/05 3 weeks
4 2001-02 Round 9 - Round 10 2001/12/20 2002/01/09 3 weeks
5 2002-03 Round 6 - Round 7 2002/11/14 2002/12/04 3 weeks
6 2002-03 Round 9 - Round 10 2002/12/19 2003/01/08 3 weeks
7 2003-04 Round 7 - Round 8 2003/12/18 2004/01/07 3 weeks
8 2001-02 Round 11 - Round 12 2002/01/17 2002/01/30 2 weeks
9 2002-03 Round 11 - Round 12 2003/01/16 2003/01/29 2 weeks

Starting with the 2002-03 season, the league adopted a new regular season format of 3 groups of 8 teams. Following the first four seasons of the Euroleague, the tournament started to back off of the long breaks, and the breaks themselves started to shorten and were less frequent than before.

The regular season slowly began to end earlier within each year. It only featured a single tournament break during the festive season at the end of December and the early days of January.

The 2008-2009 season marked the return of the initial 4 groups of 6 teams regular season system. The longer breaks came back as well. The two seasons afterward featured two extensive breaks, one not so long after another.

Euroleague breaks during 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons:

No. Season Rounds Start date End date Length of the break
1 2008-09 Round 8 - Round 9 2008/12/18 2009/01/07 3 weeks
2 2009-10 Round 8 - Round 9 2009/12/17 2010/01/06 3 weeks
3 2008-09 Round 4 - Round 5 2008/11/13 2008/11/26 2 weeks
4 2009-10 Round 4 - Round 5 2009/11/12 2009/11/25 2 weeks

The 2010-11 season marked the first time the regular season ended before the New Year. Subsequently, there were no breaks during the first portion of the tournament.

Interestingly enough, the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons featured the longest breaks between the Regular Season and the Top 16 round in EuroLeague history. Teams had to wait a whopping 4 weeks to play in the next tournament round two years in a row.

Starting with the 2012-13 season up until the 2016-17 season, the EuroLeague looked much more of a version that we now know and love. There were no breaks between rounds during the regular season, and the system was quick, efficient, and effective.

Only the last two years started to remind us of the long-passed times. Hopefully, the postponement of Round 19 is the last inconvenience of such a large extent that we will experience in the near future.

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