The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season is nearing its finish and the tightness in the race to reach the playoffs is unprecedented. There were some important results in Round 29. FC Barcelona became the first team to reach the playoffs after it beat Real Madrid 76-81 in El Clasico. Barcelona needed to win and for either Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul or Zalgiris Kaunas to lose the next day; both teams lost, against Valencia Basket and Anadolu Efes Istanbul, respectively. In another important showdown atop the standings, AX Armani Exchange Milan defeated CSKA Moscow 76-84 in the Russian capital. Milan is closer than ever to making its return to the playoffs and is deep in the fight to have the home-court advantage in its series. ALBA Berlin downed LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne at the Astroballe and four other teams – Panathinaikos OPAP Athens, Olympiacos Piraeus, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, and TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz – won at home. As always, teams with little or virtually no chance to reach the playoffs are going to keep fighting for wins. No-one gives up, and that makes the EuroLeague the most exciting basketball competition in the world.

My team Gancedato had a very average performance. Only one player, Wade Baldwin IV of FC Bayern Munich, underperformed. My choice of captain, Nando De Colo of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, was not the best one. De Colo played well, but Fenerbahce didn’t win and I had six players score higher than him. With that, I still got 180.9 points, ranked 9,349th for the week and dropped a few spots in the overall standings to 2,413th. I have decided to add new players to the team, due to their respective squads’ circumstances.

Three trades are usually allowed before each round until the end of the season. Exceptionally, in Round 30, four trades are allowed because the game between Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv and ASVEL was suspended and re-scheduled. This should work in my favor because I have no Maccabi or ASVEL player on my roster at the moment, but to be perfectly honest, I like most of the players I already have, the real stars in the competition, so I am only using three trades. I am selling Baldwin because he is at the utility spot and I have someone else in mind for that spot. I am also selling Mike James of CSKA because he plays against a good defender like Jeffery Taylor and the matchup looks potentially difficult. Finally, I am selling Vladimir Lucic of Bayern, because I am going all-in with a different small forward. Taking risks to surprise a bit.

The small forward I want is Mario Hezonja of Panathinaikos. Nemanja Nedovic has been sidelined for a while and Hezonja has had time to adjust to his new team. I believe he has the potential to accumulate high PIRs in some of the remaining regular-season dates and this week’s game – against Zvezda at home – has all the ingredients for him to do well. I am also buying Jordan Loyd of Zvezda. It was either him or Errick McCollum of Khimki Moscow Region, but I decided to buy Loyd because he has been more consistent throughout the season. Finally, I am adding Edy Tavares of Real because his team needs a final push to make it to the playoffs and needs its best players to take a step forwards.

Therefore, Gancedato looks like this before Regular Season Round 30:

Vasilije Micic, Anadolu Efes Istanbul (PG) – Like every week, I considered him or Shane Larkin and decided to go with Micic, who faces one of his former teams.

Nando De Colo, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul (SG) – De Colo remains in good form, asking for the ball to make things happen. Keeping him for as long as I can.

Mario Hezonja, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens (SF) – Hezonja has been solid since he arrived in Athens. It is now time to take a step forward and have a monster game.

Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona (PF) – Barcelona is in the playoffs. Next stop: fighting for the home-court advantage in its series. A big goal that Mirotic is aware of.

Edy Tavares, Real Madrid (C) – He had a huge game in Spanish League action with a PIR of 37 against Baskonia. I am confident in Edy and making him team captain.

Jordan Loyd, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade (G) – I’m picking him over McCollum because he matches up well against Hezonja and Lefteris Bochoridis. He should have a good game.

Jordan Mickey, Khimki Moscow Region (F) – This guy has been unstoppable lately and shows no sign of slowing down. One of the men of the moment in Fantasy Challenge.

Jan Vesely, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul (U) – Zalgiris will not make things easy on him and Joffrey Lauvergne knows him well, but Vesely has been on fire lately.

Remember, the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague only gets more and more exciting from now on. Keep following the games and make sure you challenge your friends and thousands of other managers with our signature game: the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge!

Seen at: Euroleague.net