Round 17 is almost here, which means that we are reaching another important date in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season: the halfway mark of this round-robin battle to get to the playoffs. Rounds 15 and 16 were played last week and a lot of teams won both games: Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, FC Barcelona, Anadolu Efes Istanbul, Real Madrid, UNICS Kazan, Zenit St Petersburg and Olympiacos Piraeus. That is, the top four teams in the standings, two more in playoffs territory and Fenerbahce, which is now on a four-game winning streak and looking good after a dangerous 3-9 start.

It was also a good week for my team, Gancedato, in the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge. Nando De Colo of Fenerbahce was a great team captain, Velimir Perasovic of UNICS was also a great choice of head coach, and only Nikola Milutinov of CSKA Moscow had a sub-par performance. It is logical: Milutinov comes off an injury, sometimes he will find his rhythm and sometimes, well, he won’t. This time, Joey Bolomboy and Johannes Voigtmann led CSKA’s comeback. Milutinov bounced back in VTB League action, getting 13 points and 10 rebounds in less than 15 minutes. It is a matter of time before Milutinov plays with consistency. I scored 178.9 points and more or less kept my place in the overall standings, ranking 327th overall.

Before I tell you what I am going to do with my teams, there are a couple of important announcements to make. First, starting this week, you can create a mid-season team to compete for different prizes. The Mid-Season league is a public league in which every fantasy coach has the opportunity to restart the game with a new team to better enjoy the second part of the season. A new start for all EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge managers. It starts with Round 17 and you will have a starting budget of 104.8 credits. The winner of the Mid-Season league gets a EuroLeague jersey of the winner’s choice and an EuroLeague Tv subscription for the 2022-23 season. You can also create private leagues with mid-season teams and start from scratch.

I also want to explain how the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge works when a game is postponed. In the past, the game’s organization would allow extra trades and mark down players from the postponed game as injured. From now on, it is a little bit different.

The procedure now for postponed games is as follows:

1) Players from a postponed game will be eligible and receive their average score of the season so far.

2) You want choose a player from a postponed game as your team captain, BUT you must choose him as captain in the first turn (before any games are played) and you cannot switch to a postponed game player as team captain in the second turn. It is all in the game rules.

All that means that you already know the score of some players, and so it is up to you if you choose them or not, which takes the game to a different level in terms of strategy.

So, it is completely your choice, as you can see. Back to my team, then. Three trades are allowed before each round until the end of the regular season. You can switch head coach, too, so let’s start with that. Since UNICS plays in Barcelona, I am trading Coach Perasovic and buying Coach Xavi Pascual. Zenit registered an unexpected home loss in the VTB League, and I believe the team should use it as a wake-up call against Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv. Of course, I may be wrong, but I have been choosing coaches wisely in the last 4-5 rounds. I am selling Milutinov to go for a different center, also letting Lorenzo Brown of UNICS go because guards usually struggle against Barcelona’s defense – even when Lorenzo is playing great – and Andrey Zubkov of Zenit because I have a different choice for the backup forward spot.

I am buying Jan Vesely of Fenerbahce at center. Fenerbahce needs to play very physical if it wants to beat LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne and I believe that having its two main players in my EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge team, De Colo and Vesely, is the right move. I am also buying Nemanja Nedovic of Panathinaikos OPAP Athens. His price went down to 9.8 credits and he already proved earlier this season that he can deliver in the Greek derby. Finally, I am buying Rolands Smits of Barcelona. Nigel Hayes-Davis is out, so Smits should see more playing time and help the team in many ways – all for just 5.9 credits.

So this is it, here is my Round 17 lineup:

Nico Laprovittola, FC Barcelona (9.5 credits) – Laprovittola had a double-digit PIR in all of his team’s last 6 games. Half of those times he got a PIR of 18 or better. No need to trade him, really.

Nemanja Nedovic, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens (9.8 credits) – Nedovic is a super scorer ready to prove his value in the Greek Derby. He is a natural choice to lead the Greens from now on.

Rolands Smits, FC Barcelona (5.9 credits) – Coach Sarunas Jasikevicius knows what he gets with Smits: defense, discipline, focus and intensity. With extended playing time, he could have a very good game.

Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona (17.6 credits) – You may think it is not the right game for Mirotic because UNICS should do anything to stop him… but that’s every opponent, every week. He stays.

Dmitry Kulagin, Zenit St Petersburg (4.7 credits) – After a few weeks sidelined with injury, Kulagin was back to action and he should see some playing time at home against Maccabi to get in the groove and start contributing solid for his team.

Nando De Colo, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul (14.0 credits) – On the bench only because he plays on Friday. He is my backup choice as team captain only because Mirotic plays on Thursday. Nando is a must.

Leonidas Kaselakis, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens (4.5 credits) – Nedovic returned but Kaselakis kept seeing playing time – 10 minutes in Round 16. One more week for him, unless he has a great game.

Jan Vesely, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul (15.4 credits) – Meant to be my starting center, Vesely would only remain on the bench if Blazevic has a monster game. ‘The Czech Jet’ should do well against ASVEL.

Sasha Vezenkov, Olympiacos Piraeus (12.8 credits) – The Greek Derby is an opportunity for superstars to rise to the occasion. Vezenkov is one of Olympiacos’s main players, and should be looking forward to this game.

Ognjen Jaramaz, FC Bayern Munich (4.6 credits) – Jaramaz did everything I asked him for in Round 16 – 11 points in less than 16 minutes and a PIR of 8. An excellent choice in the backup guard spot.

That’s all I have this week. A lot of people take holidays around this time of the year but don’t worry, we are here to entertain you. Enjoy Round 17 of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and don’t forget to make new teams in the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge to compete in the Mid-season League and in new private leagues. Good luck!

Seen at: Euroleague.net