Euroleague.net's editor, Javier Gancedo, has worked for Euroleague Basketball since 2003, writing, interviewing players and doing all kinds of features about his favorite sport. Among several initiatives, he created every Euroleague fan's favorite on-line game, bwin Euroleague Fantasy Challenge. As the Euroleague season unfolds, Javier blog about Fantasy Challenge, giving you tips and valuable advice about the game, but most of all, sharing his basketball devotion with all of you, the Turkish Airlines Euroleague fans!
First of all, bwin Euroleague Fantasy Challenge fans, I hope you had a nice holiday break. The Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 starts next week and, just as in life itself, the new year gives all fantasy players a chance to do better, start over and correct all of our mistakes. Yes, unlimited trading is open from now until the start of the Top 16. From that moment forward, only three trades will be allowed per week until we get to the Quarterfinal Playoffs, when open trading will be reinstalled until the end of the contest. So, you have more chances to win weekly prizes with reloaded rosters, a new end-of-phase prize coming up... and loads of chances for everyone to win, do better or just enjoy the 2011-12 Euroleague season through bwin Fantasy Challenge.
My team Meet the Boss did alright in regular season Week 10, which is remarkable, I think. Despite having Fernando San Emeterio of Caja Laboral scoring a -10 index - did any of you ever thought such thing was possible? - and losing Krunoslav Simon of KK Zagreb CO early in his team's decisive game against Zalgiris, my team had 135.5 points and moved up to a more respectable 7,020th overall spot. I have said many times that I needed to get ready for the Top 16. At 548 credits, my team is not extremely rich, but I believe it is enough to spend on a nice, competitive squad. So, by selling most of my players, I will try to put together a team just for Top 16 Week 1
Yes, I am keeping four of my regular season players. There is no chance on Earth that I will get rid of Sonny Weems of Zalgiris, whose solid performance has helped me a lot along the way. Zalgiris plays at home against Maccabi Electra and Weems is one of the most solid fantasy players around. Keith Langford of Maccabi is also a must, in my humble opinion. Langford is a bargain at just 29.7 credits, is seeing extended playing time and has played well during the holiday break, too. I am also keeping two big man who play at home and whom I trust a lot. One is Dusko Savanovic, All-Euroleague second team selection last season, the only pure power forward on Anadolu Efes and someone who is always ready to improve for important games. The other was going to be Joel Freeland, a dominant force in the paint, one of my favorite players, but he got injured. Mike Batiste steps in for him.
As for the other six, I have almost 350 credits to use. He is expensive, but I always wanted to have Bo McCalebb of Montepaschi Siena, so he is my first priority at point guard. Since Roko Ukic of Fenerbahce Ulker is sidelined, I am buying Curtis Jerrells at the other point guard spot. More playing time does not always mean higher performance index ratings, but the two are usually related. FB Ulker plays against a good defensive team like Unics, but I am getting Jerrells anyway. As for big men, my first pick is David Andersen of Montepaschi. Again, he’s an experienced player who raises his level in the most important games. His frontcourt mate, Ksistof Lavrinovic, remains sidelined, so despite playing against defensive stopper D'or Fischer of Gescrap BB, Andersen is in. So is Nenad Krstic of CSKA, for obvious reasons - bwin MVP for November, the most solid center throughout the regular season. That leaves me with 79.5 credits for two players. I don't like using players who go against each other but since Malik Hairston of EA7 Emporio Armani is sidelined, I am buying his teammate Stefano Mancinelli, who is leading Milano in playing time lately, and his potential matchup, Romain Sato of Panathinaikos, who should use his aggressiveness and experience in this game.
So Meet The Boss looks like this in Top 16 Game 1:
Bo McCalebb - Can't go wrong with him. McCalebb scared all of us with a foot problem some days ago, but is ready to play.
Curtis Jerrells - Without Ukic around, Jerrells is Fener's first choice at point guard.
SHOOTING GUARDS AND SMALL FORWARDS
Sonny Weems - Had 15 index or better in 9 out of 10 games until now. Enough said. Weems is a keeper.
Romain Sato - Panathinaikos will use his athleticism and know-how at small forward. Should be a good game for him.
Keith Langford - Undervalued in fantasy challenge. A great scorer finally back in the Top 16. A must-have player.
Stefano Mancinelli - A good find at just 22 credits, as he is more and more important to coach Sergio Scariolo.
POWER FORWARDS AND CENTERS
Dusko Savanovic - Always ready for big games, and the Top 16 opener against Galatasaray MP is not an exception.
Mike Batiste - Playing really well in 2012 so far. An All-Euroleague first team center for 35 credits, too.
Nenad Krstic - Had 18 index or better in 9 out of 10 games this far. Few players have been more solid.
David Andersen - Can't go wrong with DA - knows the competition well and is in very good shape.
So that's all from me until now. Stay tuned, keep playing the fantasy challenge, enjoy the game like you always do and get ready for the excitement - the Top 16 is almost here! Remember, we remain available for doubts, suggestions and even praise at email@example.com. Good luck to you all!
JAVIER GANCEDO - EUROLEAGUE.NET
Tuesday, January 10, 2012