We have played 28 rounds of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and it is safe to say that the playoff race is tighter and more exciting than ever. Last season, when the EuroLeague season was halted after Round 28 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, five teams – Anadolu Efes Istanbul, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, CSKA Moscow and Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv – had already qualified for the playoffs. At the same point a year later, not a single team has secured a playoff berth. That means that every game will count even more, not just to make it to the playoffs, but also to rank as high as possible in the standings at the end of the regular season. The remaining schedule is full of critical games everywhere. CSKA Moscow takes on AX Armani Exchange Milan in a battle between the second and third-ranked team right now. The first three teams outside the playoff zone – Zalgiris Kaunas, TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz and Valencia Basket – play against squads that are among the best eight right now – Efes, FC Bayern Munich and Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, respectively. And on top of everything, we have the EuroLeague edition of El Clasico, as Real hosts Barcelona.
It is an excellent time to be a EuroLeague fan with so many great games ahead of us. And it is always fun to watch the games while playing the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge. My team Gancedato scored 181.9 points because of a so-so choice of team captain. I picked Alexey Shved of Khimki Moscow Region and would have reached 200 points if my choice was the natural one, Nando De Colo of Fenerbahce. Even so, most of my team lived up to the expectations, I ranked 4,397th in Round 28 and climbed to 2,191st overall. It is a matter of time before I get it right away and have a really good score, like I did two weeks ago or when I was fourth overall.
Three trades are allowed before each round until the end of the regular season and I am going to need all of them. I am trading Shved because he has back problems and is, at least, questionable. I wish him a speedy recovery and hope he can be back on court as soon as possible. I am also selling Shane Larkin of Efes because he had a score of 9.9 in Round 28 and I have not one, but two guards in mind to use instead of him. I am moving Jordan Mickey of Khimki to the forward spot, and trading Bojan Dubljevic of Valencia at the utility spot, simply because I have more options that way. Instead of picking a forward, I can choose any player I can afford.
I am buying three point guards in the same week, which is unthinkable in real life, but this is the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge and it can definitely happen. I am buying Mike James of CSKA because he plays against his former team, Milan, which is without one of its playmakers, Malcolm Delaney (get well soon, Malcolm!). I am also buying Vasilije Micic of Efes because he also plays against his former team, Zalgiris Kaunas, and should be extremely motivated to play against the Lithuanian champs. Last but not least, I am adding Wade Baldwin IV of Bayern, mainly because he has been on fire lately. He comes off a great double week and even though Bayern did not have high-scoring games, he had a PIR average of 28.5. Baskonia may feature a great defender in Pierria Henry at his position, but I am still going with Baldwin.
So Gancedato looks like this before Round 29:
Mike James, CSKA Moscow (PG) – James plays against Milan, his former team, which is always a plus. CSKA needs to bounce back from a 30-point loss and James should be ready.
Nando De Colo, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul (SG) – Another superstar playing against his ex-team, this time De Colo and Valencia Basket. De Colo is on fire, so he’s my team captain.
Vladimir Lucic, FC Bayern Munich (SF) – Lucic has started to post solid numbers again and has a size advantage against his potential Baskonia defenders. Should be a solid choice.
Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona (PF) – Yes, Mirotic also plays against his former squad, and in El Clasico, no less! I expect him to play with a lot of aggressiveness against Real.
Jan Vesely, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul (C) – Vesely has been incredibly solid in his team’s outstanding run (12-1 in the last 13 games). He is my go-to guy at the center spot.
Vasilije Micic, Anadolu Efes Istanbul (G) – Micic plays against Zalgiris, where his career took off. That simple fact gives him the edge over Larkin in Round 29.
Jordan Mickey, Khimki Moscow Region (F) – Mickey has been on fire lately, averaging 21.8 points on 44-of-70 two-point shooting (62.9%) in his last five games. What’s not to like?
Wade Baldwin IV, FC Bayern Munich (U) – Baldwin did a little bit of everything against Panathinaikos in Round 28: 27 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals. Next stop: Baskonia.
That’s all I have for you. Be careful out there, stay healthy and safe. Like I said, there are plenty of great games to follow this season, not just in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, but also in the 7DAYS EuroCup, with the end of the Top 16 and the road to the title to be mapped out on Wednesday night. Follow it all! We are here to entertain you and make it better with our fantasy games, led by our most popular one: the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge.
Seen at: Euroleague.net