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This Saturday marks the opening of the 2014/15 Liga ACB season. Defending champion FC Barcelona renew their quest for glory at 8.45 PM CET versus Caja Laboral at the Palau Blaugrana. We are here to fill you in on the nine keys to Barça's season:
Repeating is never easy: Only one team have repeated in the last 10 years. In fact, that one team were Barça in 2011 and 2012.
The first game: Traditionally, FC Barcelona have started off on the right foot. In the last five seasons their record in season openers is four wins and one loss, good for second best.
Five new faces: This season's additions are Tomas Satoransky, Marcus Eriksson, DeShaun Thomas, Justin Doellman and Tibor Pleiss. No longer with the team are: Victor Sada, Jacob Pullen, Marko Todorovic, Kostas Papanikolaou, Erazem Lorbek and Joey Dorsey.
The schedule: Xavi Pascual's team open up this Saturday against Caja Laboral. The first derby versus Joventut comes in the fifth game at home, while the first El Clasico comes in the 13th game, also in Barcelona. And they wrap up the season, once again at home, versus Andorra.
How the runner-up got better: After falling to Barça in last year's final, Real Madrid went out and got Gustavo Ayon, Facundo Campazzo, KC Rivers, Jonas Maciulis and Andres Nocioni. However, they no longer have Nikola Mirotic.
Andorra, a new rival: The Liga ACB has 18 teams. The only one that is new this year is Andorra, making their first appearance in 18 years. Two ex-Barça players, Victor Sada and Jordi Trias, are among their go to weapons.
Other key signings: The free agent market was active. Among the notable pickups were: Guillem Vives (Valencia), Kostas Vasileiadis (Unicaja), Jason Robinson (Zaragoza), Sergi Vidal (Joventut), Blagota Sekulic (Tenerife), Nacho Martin (Estudiantes) and Roger Grimau (Manresa).
New, and old, players: This weekend there are a total of 54 players that could make their Liga ACB debut, while 19 players are returning to the league after spending time elsewhere.
Coaching changes: In addition to the players, some of the more distinguished coaches have also changed teams. Aito Garcia is taking over at Gran Canaria, Jaume Ponsarnau is doing so at Guipuzkoa Basket, Sito Alonso will take the reins at Bilbao Basket, and Pedro Martinez is the new skipper at Manresa.
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