Euroleague.nets 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 fans 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!
Well, another Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 week is in the books, with some teams confirming their great form, others challenging for the Playoffs and still others in need of a major recovery to avoid getting eliminated as soon as this week. There were four big highlights, in my opinion, last week. First, Panathinaikos getting a 21-point road win against Fenerbahce Ulker despite using a limited rotation. If anyone doubted that the reigning champs are ready to fight, that proves it, loud and clear. Second, Bennet Cantu beat Maccabi Electra playing some of the most balanced, intense basketball of the season. If you have the chance to watch the replay – and you can, of course, on Euroleague TV – dont miss the chance to do so. Third, Montepaschi Siena thrashed another Spanish team to get as close as anyone to the playoffs. I am not surprised to see Montepaschi winning, but such big margins are surprising. Fourth, Olympiacos beat Anadolu Efes 83-65 with every one of those points likely to count in a tight race for second place.
As for the bwin Euroleague Fantasy Challenge, this is the last week in which, mathematically speaking, all Euroleague teams have chances to get to the playoffs. Some teams will be eliminated this week, some others will reach the next round and everything, from rotations to motivation, will not be the same for those who run out of chances to advance. My team keeps getting respectable scores, too. Meet the Boss got 170.2 points, ranks 3,044th overall and moved up to around 590 credits. It is ironic that when I had to make big money in the game, I didnt... but now that I am playing better, I get more and more credits when I am not supposed to. My team ranks 388th in the Top 16 and Playoffs standings with 499.1 points. By the way, the overall fight to win the contest is closer than ever, with three teams almost tied. It will be one of the closest races ever to get to the Final Four as our very special guest.
So, with three trades available this week, lets use him. Obviously Viktor Khryapa of CSKA Moscow has to go because he broke his finger and cannot play until the end of this round. Here's wishing Viktor a quick recovery and thanking him for a very solid performance. I am also getting rid of Igor Rakocevic of Montepaschi Siena, who did not live up to my very high expectations. Rakocevic is not particularly liked in Malaga because of his stellar performances at Martin Carpena arena, but this wasn't one of them. My final trade will be Milos Teodosic of CSKA Moscow. He doesn't feel especially comfortable coming off the bench - unlike teammate Nenad Krstic, who is playing even better - and I have other ideas in mind. It is a problem to have 135.4 credits for 3 players. Not enough money to be fully competitive. I will come with something, as always.
My first pick is Aaron Jackson of Gescrap BB. Jackson plays at home, it's a must-win game for Bilbao and he had a bad game last week, but shined in the Spanish League against Madrid this weekend. I am tempted to buy Petr Samoylenko, who is arguably playing the best basketball of his career, but I will go with Jackson. Out of the many options I have at shooting guards and small forwards, I am going with Sasha Vujacic of Anadolu Efes. Again, Efes plays at home and needs Vujacic to win a critical game against Olympiacos - his team cannot afford a 0-2 record against the Reds. That leaves me with 46.7 credits for a big man. Despite considering Esteban Batista and Boni Ndong, I am buying Ioannis Bourousis of EA7 Emporio Armani Milano. Bourousis has played well at home all season and this is a critical game for his team.
So my team looks like this in Top 16 Week 4. Let's see if I can keep the good times rolling.
Bo McCalebb - The one and only! He has been absolutely unstoppable. Everyone must have him in his team, all the time.
Aaron Jackson - Backed by a sellout crowd, Jackson will try to use his speed and ballhandling against Madrid.
SHOOTING GUARDS AND SMALL FORWARDS
Keith Langford - He remains Maccabi's top gun this season and has been really solid in the Top 16.
Juan Carlos Navarro - He will be back to the same arena where he was chosen as the EuroBasket MVP. Enough said.
Sasha Vujacic - Well, Efes is on the ropes and will only stand up with a big win. Vujacic's time is now.
Vassilis Spanoulis - Another must-have player who always delivers. An undeniable leader, too.
POWER FORWARDS AND CENTERS
Ioannis Bourousis - He has two underwhelming performances on the road, but has been solid at home until now.
Mike Batiste - Comes off a great, dominant game against Fenerbahce - and faces them again this week.
Nenad Krstic - Earned MVP honors last week. He may come off the bench now, but Krstic stays on fire.
David Andersen - Montepaschi's main pillar around the baskets. His matchup against Joel Freeland will be critical.
The Turkish Airlines Euroleague will take a one-week break for the domestic cups weekend. Enjoy the competition, not only watching the games, but also following your players at the bwin Euroleague Fantasy Challenge. Admit it: how many players that you rarely heard of before have now become some of your personal favorites because of our game? Don't miss the deadline at 19:00 CET on Wednesday, and good luck to all of you!
JAVIER GANCEDO - EUROLEAGUE.NET
Monday, February 06, 2012