Round 26 was a very unpredictable one in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. Anything could have happened in the Istanbul derby, but who would have thought that Anadolu Efes would beat Fenerbahce Beko by 32 points to stop its 10-game winning streak? Vasilije Micic had a near-perfect game and led Efes to an important win. Valencia Basket arrived for its road game against Zenit St Petersburg with good momentum, but beating the Russian powerhouse 62-91 was something no-one, not even the most optimistic taronja fan, could have expected. Two more teams won the road in Round 26; CSKA Moscow edged Olympiacos Pireaus 74-75 in a back-and-forth game. Olympiacos was losing by 25 and came back to take the lead, but CSKA prevailed down the stretch. LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne topped FC Barcelona at Palau Blaugrana. It was its first road victory against Barcelona since 1996 and ASVEL is now on a six-game winning streak, its longest in the competition since the turn of the millennium. FC Bayern Munich, AX Armani Exchange Milan, Real Madrid, ALBA Berlin and TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz all won at home.

As for the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge, I made two major mistakes, which are easy to spot after the round, but difficult when you don’t know what is going to happen, of course. The first one was selling Micic, who had a career-best performance. The second one was also related to Efes; it was naming Shane Larkin as team captain. Of course, since Micic played an outstanding game, Larkin didn’t have the same numbers. All of my players scored in double digits, but I had 138.5 fantasy points, ranking 14,294th overall. If I had kept Micic and made him team captain instead, I would probably have scored over 200 points. I am 2,291st overall and need to bounce back.

Three trades are allowed before each round until the end of the regular season, which, by the way, is getting closer and closer. My main problem before Round 26 is that there are three players I would like to have and therefore I have two options: a) trade accordingly, keeping players I wouldn’t keep under regular circumstances and trading others that I would keep or b) just go for two of these three players and hope that the other will not have a monster performance. I have decided to go with the second option. I am trading Cory Higgins of FC Barcelona mainly because I think I have a better option at forward. I am also getting rid of Will Thomas of Zenit St Petersburg because he is at the utility spot and I need that for a certain big guy, and I am trading Jan Vesely of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul because he plays against Kyle Hines of Milan and I don’t like that matchup. Plus again, one of the players I want is a center.

I am buying Edy Tavares of Real Madrid because everything seems to be working in his favor, really. His team plays against Khimki Moscow Region, which is allowing 91.0 points on average, Real needs the win to stay strong in the playoff race and Tavares bounced back from an underwhelming performance in EuroLeague action with a monster performance in the Spanish League – 27 points, 7 rebounds, 6 blocks and a PIR of 37. I am also buying the player who is going against him, Jordan Mickey of Khimki. In general, signing the center that plays against Tavares would be Fantasy Challenge suicide, but Mickey played with him last season and is playing really, really well lately. He’s averaged 20.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and a PIR of 23.3 in Khimki’s last three games and is his team’s main frontcourt reference right now. I need a forward to complete the squad and instead of keeping Higgins or Thomas, I decided to sign Shavon Shields of Milan. He has been really strong in the last three games and I like his chances against Fenerbahce.

It is all a bit risky, but I don’t want to have the same players night in and night out. Again, it could all change in Round 28. Remember, it is a two-round week, so we will see. Here is how Gancedato looks like before Round 27. As players and coaches always say… one game at a time.

Shane Larkin, Anadolu Efes Istanbul (PG) – Ah yes. Micic was the player I wanted and didn’t pick. That’s because I think Larkin will play really well against Valencia. Team captain – again!

Nando De Colo, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul (SG) – Even though his team lost by 32, De Colo had a solid performance, numbers-wise. Right now, he is a player everyone must own in the game.

Vladimir Lucic, FC Bayern Munich (SF) – Born in Belgrade and raised with Partizan, it must be really special for Lucic to go back home and face Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade. Lucic stays.

Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona (PF) – Barcelona faces a difficult trip to play Panathinaikos OPAP Athens in the Greek capital. It is time for its best players to step up and Mirotic is nothing but a superstar.

Edy Tavares, Real Madrid (C) – Effectiveness in the paint, rebounds and blocked shots are his strengths. When all three take place, Tavares is a PIR machine, like he proved this weekend.

Mike James, CSKA Moscow (G) – I expect a fun-to-watch game between CSKA and Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv. It’s a classic and big players like James step up in big games like this, right?

Shavon Shields, AX Armani Exchange Milan (F) – It has been a while since I had a Milan player. Shields has averaged a PIR of 21.3 in the last three games on a winning team. It’s promising.

Jordan Mickey, Khimki Moscow Region (C) – Mickey has been very strong in the last three games, scoring, helping on the boards, blocking shots… and he faces his former team, too.

That’s all I have this week. March is one of my favorite months in the competition, as all teams fight to make it to the playoffs. You can see some of the best basketball in the competition this month. Make sure you enjoy Rounds 28 and 29 in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and keep battling against thousands of other managers in the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge.

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