It is that time of the week again when I talk about my EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge team, Gancedato. Things did not go great in Round 5, but a lot of the top players underperformed, so there were not a lot of great scores, anyway. Ioseba Larrañaga won Round 5 with 175.6 points. To make you see how tough Round 5 was, our Round 4 winner, Marius, had 238 points. With all that in mind, a score of 119.9 points, which would be terrible in an average round, was acceptable in this tough, impossible Round 5. In fact, it has allowed me to climb a few spots in the overall standings, where I now rank 3,663.
On to business. What do I do this week with Nando De Colo? On the one hand, De Colo had a horrible game in Round 5, seeing very limited playing time and not stepping on the court at all in the second half. On the other hand, he felt better this weekend, scoring 19 points in as many minutes in VTB League action. If it were any other player, scoring 0 last round and worth over 2 million, knowing he will go down in price almost for sure, I would not have second thoughts and sell him immediately. But this is Nando De Colo we are talking about, the best Fantasy Challenge player over the last three years. The most solid, consistent, reliable player in the game. Again, what do I do now?
I have decided that if I can put together a competitive squad without him, I will keep De Colo. I don't care if his value goes down, because this is not a player you trade unless he is injured. I am selling DeAndre Kane of Maccabi because he had a PIR of 2 last week and his team faces Real Madrid, the reigning EuroLeague champion, no less. I am also selling Jordan Mickey because even when expectations were too high, his performance was very, very poor. I am also selling Kevin Pangos of FC Barcelona Lassa because I cannot figure that team out when it comes to its playmakers. The team is working very well, three wins in a row, but other than Ante Tomic, no one puts up good numbers on a regular basis, which is good. A diversified offense is good for winning, but not for Fantasy.
Let's see who I can buy. My number one priority is Paulius Jankunas of Zalgiris. His team plays against Buducnost, Zalgiris should win in Podgorica, and Jankunas – a solid rebounder and a deadly mid-range shooter – should play well. It is a fact that Zalgiris is playing better on the road this season, so here's hoping the visitors keeps that streak going. I am also buying Vasilije Micic of Anadolu Efes Istanbul, who is in great shape lately. He had a very good game against Milan but missed the game-winning free throws, so no one will be more motivated than him now. He is a big guard who can play in the low post and playing against Herbalife Gran Canaria, that means he can give Clevin Hannah and Albert Oliver – another guard able to post up – trouble. I have 1.08 million for a small forward and have decided to get Mindaugas Kuzminskas. I am a bit undecided about this, but is it enough to trade De Colo and try something else? It certainly isn't. I expect the game between Milan and CSKA to be a high-scoring one, with decent PIRs for a lot of players and hopefully 'Kuz' will be one of them.
So my team looks like this before Round 6:
Nick Calathes, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens (PG) – Still cheap at 1.4 million, Calathes is Panathinaikos's undeniable leader. He should prove it against Olympiacos in the Greek derby this week.
Nando De Colo, CSKA Moscow (SG) – HE STAYS. De Colo had a PIR of 0 last week, but I don't care. He is the best and has my complete, absolute and devoted trust. Well, for now.
Mindaugas Kuzminskas, AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan (SF) – Nikita Kurbanov was out last week, so maybe Kuzminskas can have a size advantage in this game. Looking forward to finding out!
Toko Shengelia, KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz (PF) – The best power forward there is in Fantasy Challenge. Not an easy game against Fenerbahce, so Shengelia must lead Baskonia again.
Vincent Poirier, KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz (C) – Not a fan of having two frontcourt players from the same team, but it is working so well that I don't have the guts to trade one of them, really.
Vasilije Micic, Anadolu Efes Istanbul (G) – Slowly but steadily, Micic has become one of Efes's leader. A solid rebounder for a player his size, Micic contributes in many different ways.
Paulius Jankunas, Zalgiris Kaunas (F) – He had a PIR of 27 in his last game, and Zalgiris needs a win against Buducnost, so I expect good things for its captain. Over and over again.
Alexey Shved, Khimki Moscow Region (U) – It is so good to have him back! Shved was unstoppable against Gran Canaria, and he will probably have another great game against Barcelona, too.
That's all I have before Round 6. Good luck to you, EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge managers! Enjoy a great round of games!
UPDATE: Apparently, Poirier is doubtful due to a back injury. My new lineup is: Calathes, De Colo, DeAndre Kane, Shengelia, Devin Booker of FC Bayern Múnich (plays against Darussafaka, the team that eliminated Bayern in the 7DAYS EuroCup last season), Clevin Hannah of Herbalife Gran Canaria, Jankunas and Shved. Good luck, everyone!