Hello everyone! Well, if there is a week that I consider to be the most complicated one of Sportingbet Fantasy Challenge - other than the opening one, which is critical - that's always Top 16 Game 4. Why? I hear you ask. It is pretty unusual and unique. Some Turkish Airlines Euroleague teams fight for survival, other have the chance to qualify as soon as this week, and some - luckily for the competition, seven this year - had to battle hard to win domestic cup championships over the weekend. Almost a dozen Top 16 teams - all except Panathinaikos, Unicaja, Olympiacos, Lottomatica Roma and Efes Pilsen - had to play on consecutive days to either win their national cups or reach the finals. Like I said, seven teams - Fenerbahce Ulker, Maccabi Electra, Montepaschi Siena, Partizan mt:s Belgrade, Regal FC Barcelona, Union Olimpija and Zalgiris Kaunas - won respective cup titles, but they risk paying a high price for their extended efforts as a critical Euroleague game will be waiting. Expect all of them to celebrate their cup victories once the season is over, because there's no time to do it now!
The cups weekend left some unforgettable moments, but none like a three-overtime quarterfinal game between Union Olimpija and Krka Novo Mesto, without doubt an instant classic. Olimpija trailed by 17 with around 4 minutes left in regulation time. Fullcourt pressure with Vladimer Boisa as Olimpija's only big man on the floor paid off, and free throws by Saso Ozbolt sent the game, incredibly enough, to overtime. Almost 5 minutes later and with the game on the line - Krka leading by two - Muric sinks a game-winning 'three-pointer', but as everyone was celebrating, it was ruled a two-pointer as he stepped on the line. Double overtime! Coach Jure Zdovc, assistant coach Jaka Daneu and veteran Goran Jagodnik go ballistic. All three ejected, so Krka started the second overtime with 8-of-8 free throws. Olimpija rallies and gets a three-point lead, but Dusan Djordjevic buries a triple at the buzzer, forcing a third overtime in which the Slovenian champs prevailed behind an outstanding Vlado Ilievski. Epic! I know that Union Olimpija communications director Matevz Zupancic reads these lines on weekly basis. Get me a DVD copy of that game, Matevz, for the sake of our friendship. I need to watch that game!
Back to Fantasy, my team "Meet the Boss" keeps improving, but very slowly. It got 151.8 fantasy points and rank 2,524th overall with 1,743.3 points total. What's worse, most of my players face tough games on the road, which is tricky, of course. It is quite difficult to trade this week, for all the reasons explained above. My first trade will be Nikola Mirotic. He has played really well lately but I am not sure that he is ready to excel in so many games in such a short time. I am also selling Fernando San Emeterio because I truly believe that Caja Laboral will have a tough time against Panathinaikos in Athens. I will also get rid of Milos Teodosic. No particular reason for that other than I want a different point guard on the team. And that is...
...Nikos Zisis of Montepaschi Siena. Marko Jaric missed some time in the Italian Cup, Montepaschi plays at home against Partizan mt:s Belgrade and Zisis is doing very well in the Top 16 so far. Plus he is 29 credits and I need a cheap player to replace Mirotic. (I know, they play at different positions, but I mean it money-wise.) That gives me 136 credits left for two players; not bad. Even when Martynas Gecevicius and Alan Anderson are in top shape recently, I am going to buy Igor Rakocevic at shooting guard/small forward. Unfortunately for them, Efes only played one game last week, an early cup exit vs. Besiktas. Rakocevic faces his former team, Real Madrid, and is in the hunt to win his third Alphonso Ford Trophy. All that, plus Efes plays at home, too. Plenty of reasons to choose him. As for the big man left, I am having my doubts among Kenan Bajramovic, Ksistof Lavrinovic and Joel Freeland. I decided to choose Lavrinovic because he played well in the Italian Cup this weekend and will be needed badly against Nathan Jawai and James Gist of Partizan. He had two sub-par Euroleague games lately and is ready to bounce back.
So "Meet The Boss" will look like this in Top 16 Game 4:
Dimitris Diamantidis - the one and only, reliable, productive and always ready to give his best in big games.
Nikos Zisis - A bit of a gamble, but Zisis is playing well lately and Montepaschi should beat Partizan at home.
SHOOTING GUARDS AND SMALL FORWARDS:
Chuck Eidson - Facing a difficult game against a highly-motivated Union Olimpija. Tough matchup against Gregory, too.
Vassilis Spanoulis - It is a pivotal game for Olympiacos and Spanoulis rarely plays badly in such a situation.
Igor Rakocevic - Big scorer, facing his former team, playing at home for first place... A big game for Rako.
Juan Carlos Navarro - Everyone's choice in this Top 16. Navarro is on fire lately and ready to keep going.
POWER FORWARDS AND CENTERS:
Ioannis Bourousis - Power Electronics features Augustine, Javtokas and Lishchuk down low. Bourousis is needed!
Mike Batiste - Always plays well at OAKA and he will be extremely motivated against a strong Caja Laboral.
Sofoklis Schortsianitis - Maccabi needs a big game from him to win at Stozice Arena. Sofo time in Ljubljana?
Ksistof Lavrinovic - Plays at home, has performed better lately, so welcome back, Ksistof!
That's all for me this week. Trade wisely, try to beat me and Ermal Kuqo - that should be an easier task, by the way - this week. Check back next Sunday for more Fantasy Challenge analysis. Have a great Turkish Airlines Euroleague week!
Javier Gancedo - Euroleague.net
Sunday, February 13, 2011