The Spanish ACB Liga Endesa, the top-tier national league in Europe, has started this weekend.
After both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, this new 2021-22 season is one of hope and “back to normal.”
Finally, fans will be allowed at games. Not at full capacity, but at 40% to start with. A study shows that fans definitively play an essential role in home-court advantage. Last season, the hosting teams only won 54% of the games, while two seasons ago (with fans), that percentage was 61%
Another change this season is that the completion will return to an 18-team competition with promotion and relegation.
One team that we will be missing this season is Estudiantes Madrid. They played in the ACB Liga Endesa for 24 straight years but will play in the LEB Gold (Spain’s 2dn tier league) this season.
As for the favorites to win the Spanish title this season, we see the usual suspects, Real Madrid, and FC Barcelona. Unicaja Malaga, Baskonia, and Valencia Basket are the dark horses who could cause an upset. Two of those three runner-up teams already clashed this weekend when Valencia Basket lost at home 62-72 to Baskonia.
In another game, newly promoted Bregogan Lugo won its first ACB Liga Endesa game at home against Lenovo Tenerife 92-73.
Along with the Spanish ACB Liga Endesa, the leagues in the Czech Republic, Croatia, Lithuania, and Germany’s second-tier league (Pro A) also started this weekend.