As always, let's look back before we start looking forward. We come off a very interesting Round 25 in which CSKA Moscow locked up home-court advantage for the playoffs and Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul became the third team to qualify for the next round on Coach Zeljko Obradovic's 58th birthday. Fenerbahce downed Zalgiris in Kaunas, a tough accomplishment indeed, and CSKA, now with a full roster, thrashed Unicaja Malaga. The playoff race is amazing; Baskonia used a final 0-13 run to down Valencia Basket on the road and Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv also defeated Anadolu Efes Istanbul behind solid performances by Art Parakhouski and Michael Roll. Only two wins above ninth place are Khimki Moscow Region and Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens, which come off respective losses. Olympiacos Piraeus defeated Brose Bamberg and FC Barcelona Lassa thrashed Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade. Did you see Ante Tomic's dunk, which shattered the glass? Unthinkable! It was a great play, finished in spectacular fashion!
My team Gancedato had an okay week. I was able to get rid of Luka Doncic of Real Madrid and Tyler Honeycutt of Khimki Moscow Region just in time and got new players who at least gave me enough points to get 141.9. Not the best score in the world, yes, but good enough to rank 143th overall, which is a few spots higher than last week. My highest scorer, Nando De Colo of CSKA, was my team captain, which is always a plus. Since CSKA faces Fenerbahce on the road, I may consider looking for a new captain, but right now, it is time to look around for some players you could use on your EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge team in Round 26. Before I forget, take into account that Madrid visits Milan on Tuesday, so there is an early deadline. Don't miss it!
1. SONNY WEEMS, ANADOLU EFES ISTANBUL - Efes is the first team to have been eliminated from the playoff race, but that doesn't mean its players don't have something to prove. Weems was an All-EuroLeague First Team selection just four years ago and has arrived to Istanbul ready to prove his value. He is averaging 20 points and a PIR of 17 in his first two games.
2. ANTE TOMIC, FC BARCELONA LASSA - There are not too many dominant centers out there. When in shape, Ante Tomic is definitely one of them due to his sharp post skills, size and experience. Tomic has improved since Coach Svetislav Pesic joined the team and proved it against Zvezda with 16 points and a performance index rating of 22 in a team-high 25 minutes.
3. FACU CAMPAZZO, REAL MADRID - Luka Doncic will not play against Milan, which means Campazzo and Chasson Randle will share their team's point guard duties. Campazzo has proved to be a very valuable fantasy player with extended playing time and he proved it against Panathinaikos: 31 minutes, 15 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists for a PIR of 28.
4. NIKOLA MILUTINOV, OLYMPIACOS PIRAEUS - He played extremely well against Bamberg last week, finishing the game with 16 points on perfect shooting, 6 rebounds and a PIR of 26. Olympiacos hosts Barcelona this week; in the game at Palau Blaugrana, Olympiacos scored only 51 points, but Milutinov still managed to get a PIR of 16. A good, short-term fit? I would say so.
5. DEANDRE KANE, MACCABI FOX TEL AVIV - Slowly but steadily, Kane has become a very important player for Maccabi. Despite missing all of his six shots inside the arc, Kane finished the game against Efes with a PIR of 13 with all-around number - 9 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists. With Maccabi fighting for a playoff spot, Kane must give nothing but his best.
Okay, so let's take a look at my team. I am going to sell Nick Calathes of Panathinaikos mainly because his team plays against difficult Unicaja in Malaga. Coach Joan Plaza puts a lot of pressure on point guards and even though Calathes had a double-double against Unicaja in Athens, I am selling him. I am also trading Taylor Rochestie of Zvezda, mainly because he didn't play well against Valencia a few weeks back; his team won 82-86, but he finished with a PIR of 8. With Guillem Vives and the athletic Sergi Garcia recovered, no point guard will have it easy against Valencia. Finally, I am trading Aaron White of Zalgiris because there is a player I definitely need to buy at forward, and I am not selling any of the other players who could make room for this player on my team.
That player, of course, is Sonny Weems of Efes. He seems to be playing at a very high level and with a lot to prove. So far, Weems played with great consistency and good shot selection, so I expect him to keep his personal momentum going. I need two point guards and this is a no-brainer. First, following my own advice, I am getting Campazzo. Without Doncic, he has an excellent chance to prove what a great player he is, and keep in mind that Milan is without its starting point guard, too; Jordan Theodore is out. Then I am buying Nemanja Nedovic of Unicaja, who is in outstanding shape these days. He had a PIR of 17 against CSKA and was just chosen as the Spanish League weekly MVP due to his huge performance: 32 points and a PIR of 37. The man of the moment!
So Gancedato looks like this before regular season Round 26. Again, make sure you make your trades before Tuesday night.
Nemanja Nedovic, Unicaja Malaga (PG) - He's in his best shape of the season. It is the right time to sign him, even though Unicaja faces a tough game against Panathinaikos.
Nando De Colo, CSKA Moscow (SG) - CSKA faces Fenerbahce in a top-class game, made for top-class players. Obviously, when you think "EuroLeague elite", De Colo comes to mind.
Will Clyburn, CSKA Moscow (SF) - Fenerbahce is a very athletic team, so CSKA will have to make the most out of its physical players - and Clyburn is definitely one of them.
Toko Shengelia, Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz (PF) - He sat out in the Spanish League this week. It was a precautionary measure. He will be back and well-rested against Zalgiris.
Jan Vesely, Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul (C) - In his first game against CSKA this season, Vesely had a career-high night and a monster dunk on Othello Hunter. He definitely stays!
Facu Campazzo, Real Madrid (G) - Without Doncic, Campazzo will see more playing time, with a chance to put up spectacular numbers against Milan. Highly recommended.
Sonny Weems, Anadolu Efes Istanbul (F) - His time is now! Weems is back in the EuroLeague and already getting headlines. When in shape, he is almost unguardable.
Alexey Shved, Khimki Moscow Region (U) - He sat out over the weekend and will be ready to give his best in Tel Aviv. I am naming him team captain. It is a key game in the playoff race.
BENCH: Vassilis Toliopoulos (Olympiacos), Egehan Arna and Melih Mahmutoglou (Fenerbahce), Jake Cohen (Maccabi).
That's it. Make your trades before the deadline or else you will not be able to do them! Have a lot of fun competing against me and thousands of other teams in the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge!