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!
Here come the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Playoffs! The best teams in the competition square off in the ultimate battle to get to the Final Four. We have two newcomers - Gescrap BB and Unics; a never-before-seen scenario between Panathinaikos and Maccabi Electra - who have played 25 times before but never in a playoffs series; a rematch between Olympiacos and Montepaschi, which will have the home court advantage this time around; and two powerhouses in FC Barcelona Regal and CSKA, who arrive to the playoffs with a 15-1 records. The scene is set for upsets, great individual performances and for the first time, the bwin Euroleague Fantasy Challenge gets into the playoffs, too. You, Euroleague fans, wanted more weeks in the game! Of course with the Top 16 going from six to 14 games next year, you will get 24 fantasy weeks – almost half a year! – instead of a maximum of 21 this season.
This season the game will go on until the end of the playoffs – with unlimited trades. I got the game ready and there are only playoffs players available. For those leading the standings, getting the right players at the right time will be more critical than ever – not only because we are close to the end of the game, but there are few players left, so any mistake or bad performances will have a bigger impact on any team. My team Meet the Boss did not have a good performance in Top 16 Game 6. Juan Carlos Navarro was a last-minute absence and I was limited to just 112.2 points. I rank 2,610th overall, but did better, 613rd, in the Top 16. Ironically enough, I only have one eliminated player, Jamon Lucas of Galatasaray Medical Park. I could have had a huge advantage if I had allowed only three trades this week. Anyway.
As at the end of the Regular Season, it is a matter of who to keep and who to get rid of. After giving it a very good look, I have decided to keep five of them. Bo McCalebb of Montepaschi has to stay because despite a couple of sub-par performances late in the Top 16, it's his moment, right here, right now. I can say the same about Vassilis Spanoulis of Olympiacos, who stays as a must-have player for me in such a critical moment of the Euroleague season. Right now, my fantasy team cannot live without Keith Langford of Maccabi Electra, as he is his team's top scorer and will be really motivated in his first playoffs appearance. I have opted not to sell Mike Batiste of Panathinaikos, because experience matters in the playoffs and he has played against Sofoklis Schortsanitis many times, after all. Finally, I am keeping David Andersen also of Montepaschi, because he can open the floor with mid and long-range shooting against the Olympiacos centers.
That leaves me with 287.55 credits for 5 players. Not for too long, because I really need Andrei Kirilenko of CSKA in my team, the most expensive player in the game. Kirilenko is a must, as he plays at home and faces the chance to go to his first Final Four in 11 years. I am going – like everyone, I guess – for the best players available, so I am signing Dimitris Diamantidis of Panathinaikos. Anyone who saw the playoffs last season will not have any doubt that Diamantidis will be ready to give 110% against Maccabi. Here comes the hardest part - 118.35 credits for 3 players. I want players who play at home, so David Moss of Montepaschi gets in at small forward. I am also taking Boni Ndong of FC Barcelona Regal, who is very cheap at under 29 credits. I think he is the perfect player to try to stop either Vladimir Veremeenko, Aleksey Savrasenko or Nathan Jawai. In the end, I have decent money for my last player, who will be Romain Sato of Panathinaikos. Experience matters, maybe three Panathinaikos and Montepaschi players are too many, but that's the way it will be.
So Meet the Boss is going to look like this in Game 1 of the playoffs:
Bo McCalebb - Should be ready to lead Montepaschi in a critical game. McCalebb is the highest-ranked point guard, too.
Dimitris Diamantidis - The reigning Euroleague MVP entering the playoffs. There is nothing else to add, really.
SHOOTING GUARDS AND SMALL FORWARDS
Keith Langford - Has been around longer than anyone else. Langford overcame a tough start and will keep shining.
David Moss - A great defensive player and a key piece for Coach Simone Pianigiani. Montepaschi plays at home, too.
Vassilis Spanoulis - In my humble opinion, the most important player for any team in the competition.
Romain Sato - I still remember his exhibition in Game 2 of the playoffs last season. Sato will play well.
POWER FORWARDS AND CENTERS
Andrei Kirilenko - A natural-born mismatch more motivated than ever. CSKA needs Kirilenko to win Games 1 and 2.
Mike Batiste - Few players have been to more Euroleague playoffs games. Batiste will be ready to shine.
David Andersen - After several years elsewhere, Andersen is back in the Euroleague and ready to get to the Final Four.
Boni Ndong - Strong, athletic and a very effective scorer, Ndong will step up against a tough team like Unics.
That's all for me before Game 1. Above all, it is time for us all who love the Euroleague to enjoy four great basketball games. Good luck to all bwin Fantasy Challenge players! Keep feeling devotion!
JAVI GANCEDO - EUROLEAGUE.NET
Wednesday, March 14, 2012