Round 23 saw two teams - CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid - join Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul in the playoffs. CSKA defeated Herbalife Gran Canaria 107-85 behind a great team effort led by Sergio Rodriguez and Will Clyburn. Madrid topped FC Bayern Munich 91-78 with five scorers in double digits; Sergio Llull led the way with 15 points. Three more battles took part in the upper part of the standings: FC Barcelona defeated KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan edged Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv behind yet another big game from Mike James (19 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) and Anadolu Efes Istanbul downed Olympiacos Piraeus in a critical battle. In other games, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens was 2 points away from breaking a EuroLeague record when it scored 65 in the first half against Khimki Moscow Region behind an unstoppable DeShaun Thomas. Fenerbahce defeated Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul and Zalgiris Kaunas got back on track with a valuable win against Buducnost VOLI Podgorica. A lot has happened, but it only sets the stage for what will take place over the next six weeks.
Here are some EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge suggestions ahead of Round 24. The first one is very obvious: he is back, and everyone should buy him.
Alexey Shved, Khimki Moscow Region (2.65 million). He has been sidelined for three months, but Shved is back and will deliver right away in what promises to be a high-scoring showdown against Milan. Shved was just unstoppable in the competition's first nine games, averaging 25.3 points, 7.4 assists and a PIR of 25.9. His lowest PIR was 21 - enough said!
Kaleb Tarczewski, AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan (820,000). Tarczewski is back and set to see a lot of playing time. In his first game after his injury, Tarczewski had 8 points, 4 rebounds, 4 blocks and a PIR of 18 - a season-best. Without Arturas Gudaitis, Tarczewski will be especially needed this week against Khimki and its big men Jordan Mickey and Malcolm Thomas.
DeShaun Thomas, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens (1.09 million). He has been playing terrific basketball since Coach Rick Pitino joined the team and comes off his best game - 25 points, 10-of-14 two-point shots, 6 rebounds and a PIR of 24. Panathinaikos plays against high-scoring Gran Canaria, so it is a great opportunity to sign Thomas before his value goes up.
Thomas Heurtel, FC Barcelona Lassa (1.28 million). His team plays against Real Madrid, in the first Clasico after the Copa del Rey final. In that game, Heurtel earned MVP honors with 22 points. It will be an emotional night for Barcelona fans, as Juan Carlos Navarro will see his jersey retired. Barcelona must win and Heurtel will lead the team.
Jan Vesely, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul (2.20 million). Fenerbahce has the chance to lock up home-court advantage for the playoffs with a win against Efes. Vesely had a monster performance against Efes earlier this season, finishing the game with a PIR of 36. Efes won that game in come-from-behind fashion, however, so Fenerbahce will be ready to take this one at home.