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!
The Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 arrives to its last week and, just as expected, the games get better and better. I would like to point out last week’s instant classic between Fenerbahce Ulker and Unics. It had everything that makes the Euroleague special: action, drama, outstanding plays, an incredible crowd and top-quality basketball. It was simply one of the best games in Top 16 history, up there with all the great games I remember. If you are subscribed to Euroleague TV, you have the chance to watch it as often as you want. I wouldn't miss the chance to see it again! Top 16 Week 5 was full of upsets, unexpected results and above all, a lot of good basketball moments to remember.
As for the bwin Euroleague Fantasy Challenge, it is time to look forward and discard players who won't fight for big goals this week. CSKA Moscow and FC Barcelona Regal are group champions; Maccabi Electra is second in Group H no matter what; and as many as five teams - Anadolu Efes, Unicaja, EA7 Emporio Armani Milano, Bennet Cantu and Zalgiris Kaunas - have no chance to make it to the playoffs. As such, my main goal this week is to avoid players from these eight teams, just in case different rotations take place. My team Meet the Boss had an OK week, nothing special. The -3 performance index rating by Aaron Jackson killed me, but even with that I had 124.7 points and rank 2,513rd overall - and 368th in the current round, which for the first time extends through the Top 16 to the end of the playoffs.
So, even when I think most superstars will play, it is time to make major changes. It took me 14 weeks to get Andrei Kirilenko and now that I have him, since CSKA is first anyway, I am selling him again. Kirilenko will be back for the playoffs, no question about it. I have four other players in that group of eight teams who can’t change fate in the standings this week: Nenad Krstic, Juan Carlos Navarro, Sasha Vujacic and Keith Langford. I like Langford and Navarro a lot, so I am selling the other two. After all, Vujacic faces CSKA, which is a tough defensive team. Krstic, well, he’s arguably the best center in the Euroleague this season, but again, I will do my best to have him back when unlimited trades are allowed next week.
Who should I buy, then? My first option is Vassilis Spanoulis. Olympiacos plays at home, it is a make or break game for his team and Spanoulis is simply a superstar. Olympiacos simply cannot beat Galatasaray without its best player having a good game. So, Spanoulis is in already. I have 174 credits for two big men. Plenty of money. Montepaschi needs to win its game - or even lose by up to 18 points! - to finish first regardless of other scores, so I am bringing David Andersen back into my team. I can buy anyone I like with my last trade but the best power forwards and centers - Kirilenko, Krstic, Erazem Lorbek and Giorgi Shermadini - don't play for major goals in Top 16 Week 6. Even when he is not playing consistently lately and it is a bit of a risk, I am going with Marko Banic of Gescrap BB. After all, Gescrap goes to the playoffs with a win against Unicaja this week.
So Meet the Boss looks like this in Top 16 Week 6.
Bo McCalebb - Arguably the best point guard in the Euroleague this season. Comes off his worse game in a while, too.
Aaron Jackson - A very up-and-down player but it is the most important game in Gescrap's history.
SHOOTING GUARDS AND SMALL FORWARDS
Keith Langford - Maccabi's main scorer for many weeks. Langford will be ready for a big matchup against Navarro.
Juan Carlos Navarro - He has come off an injury and Chuck Eidson is out, so Navarro will get a lot of playing time.
Vassilis Spanoulis - The most important player for Olympiacos in the Reds' most important game this season.
Jamon Lucas - Former Olympiacos player, ready to step up and take Galatasaray Medical Park to the playoffs.
POWER FORWARDS AND CENTERS
Joey Dorsey - Strong and ready, Dorsey could be one of the reasons to see Olympiacos get back to the playoffs.
Mike Batiste - In a fight to win a Top 16 group, experience counts. Batiste is experienced, talented and ready.
David Andersen - Montepaschi wants more revenge for its Top 16 loss against Madrid last season. Andersen is aware.
Marko Banic - Gescrap's team captain must step up in a huge game for his team. Banic will give 100% out there.
So, this is all from me this week. Trade safely, beware of different rotations, keep in mind the deadline and the fact that unlimited trading will be back starting next week! Good luck!
JAVI GANCEDO - EUROLEAGUE.NET
Monday, February 27, 2012