ATHENS (Euroleague) - If there has been a common theme to recent Turkish Airlines Euroleague campaigns, it's been the success of Greece.
Panathinaikos and Olympiacos have won a combined five championships in the last seven seasons.
Both sides will be in action this week when the opening round of the 2013-14 Euroleague is played.
Olympiacos, winners of the last two crowns, have already snatched some hardware this season.
They beat Pinheiros Sky in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to win the Intercontinental Cup.
The Reds will host Unicaja Malaga of Spain this week at the Peace and Friendship Stadium.
While there are some new faces in the Olympiacos line-up this season, a couple of important veterans are back in Vassilis Spanoulis and Georgios Printezis.
Unicaja Malaga have a new coach in former Real Madrid, Cajasol Sevilla and Zalgiris Kaunas play-caller Joan Plaza, and plenty of new players like former Estudiantes point guard Jayson Granger and ex-Gran Canaria sharpshooter Ryan Toolson.
A couple of Lithuanians are with Unicaja, too, including Mindaugas Kuzminskas, a EuroBasket rookie this summer in Slovenia, and the son of FIBA Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis, Domantas Sabonis.
Fran Vazquez, who has played for Spain's national teams in the past, goes into the game for Unicaja as the all-time leading shot-blocker in the Euroleague with 198.
Panathinaikos will be in action on Thursday at Lietuvos Rytas, a team that won the Qualifying Round tournament to make it into this season's competition.
Lietuvos Rytas have only recently signed Lithuanian Darius Songaila to add experience.
"We won three games in the Euroleague qualification tournament, also the last VTB league game," Lietuvos Rytas coach Dirk Bauermann said.
"Now we are playing with confidence because we haven't lost a game for some time.
"If there is a good time to play against Panathinaikos, it is in the early stage of the Euroleague season. Now they, like everybody, are trying to find themselves."
Panathinaikos have one of the all-time great point guards in the competition in Dimitris Diamantidis.
The former Greece international is just four games shy of playing in 200 Euroleague games in his career.
Only 12 others have reached the 200-game plateau.
The first contests of the Euroleague season will be played on Wednesday when Brose Baskets Bamberg host Strasbourg and their trio of France EuroBasket winners, coach Vincent Collet, guard Antoine Diot and center Alexis Ajinca.
Diot was outstanding at the EuroBasket but is already carrying some knocks early in the season.
He has been practicing this week and is expected to play.
Strasbourg haven't played in the competition for three years.
They have yet to win a Euroleague road game in seven attempts.
The other game on Wednesday sees Montepaschi Siena host Galatasaray.
Montepaschi have a new coach in Marco Crespi and just three returning players from the side that won last year's Italian title.
Among the intriguing games for Thursday will be Euroleague first-timers JSF Nanterre, who are at home to CSKA Moscow.
Nanterre were the surprise winners of last year's French league title.
Among their newcomers is Serhiy Gladyr, one of the stars of Ukraine's team that played well enough at EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia to qualify for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
CSKA recently had a pre-season tour of the United States and edged out the Minnesota Timberwolves but lost in overtime to the San Antonio Spurs.
Ettore Messina, CSKA's veteran coach, said: "They (Nanterre) are good, very athletic, well-coached team. We should not take anything for granted. We should come well-prepared."
CSKA haven't always had success against French teams in the Euroleague.
They have a 2-3 road record against the country's Euroleague clubs since 2000.
Other Thursday games are Budivelnik Kiev v Fenerbahce Ulker, Red Star Belgrade v Lokomotiv Kuban, Anadolu Efes v EA7 Armani, Laboral Kutxa v Maccabi Tel Aviv and Barcelona v Partizan.
Other Friday games are Zalgiris Kaunas v Real Madrid and Stelmet Zielona Gora v Bayern Munich.