At this point of the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge, every mistake is punished, as I found out in Round 17, when I thought I had a good score... but I really didn't. I had five players scoring over 20 fantasy points, and another one – Goga Bitadze of Buducnost VOLI Podgorica - got 15 after I had bought him before he was really popular in the game. But it was not enough to do well. Two of my players – Brandon Davies of Zalgiris and Chris Singleton of FC Barcelona Lassa – heavily underperformed in Round 17, and my choice of captain, Will Clyburn of CSKA Moscow, was not the right one, too. Clyburn had a solid game, but it was nonetheless his worst fantasy score since mid-October.
Even with that, Gancedato scored 145.4 points and ranks 6,024th overall. The idea is to get to the Top 5,000 as soon as possible and in order to do that, it is mandatory to use my three trades wisely. I have Norris Cole and Bitadze playing against Darussafaka, Nando De Colo and Clyburn playing at home against Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, and Nick Calathes in very good shape. I have three trades and three potential players leaving. FC Barcelona Lassa forward Chris Singleton plays at home against his former team, Panathinaikos. That will be a special game for him, but he has been up-and-down and Ante Tomic is finding his rhythm again. Then Jan Vesely of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul and Brandon Davies of Zalgiris Kaunas play against each other. Earlier this season, Fenerbahce beat Zalgiris 75-82, Vesely had a PIR of 15 and Davies had 22. Last season in Istanbul, Zalgiris won 89-90, Vesely had a PIR of 29 and Davies had 13. Hard to say, but I am going to trade Davies and keep Vesely. Two trades only. I trust my guys.
So, I have to add two players, and having €610,000 in my reserve budget helps a lot in such situation. First and foremost, I am signing Derrick Williams of FC Bayern Munich. He had a PIR of 30 against Milan not very long ago, and more recently, Johnny O'Bryant of Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv had a PIR of 44 – the highest this season – playing power forward against Milan. Two good reasons to bring him back, don't you think? With my second trade, I will try to get ahead of the curve and signed a player few people have on their teams – just 1,994 managers at this very moment. That's Johannes Voigtmann of KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, who had a double-double in Round 17 and barely missed it – 7 points, 13 rebounds – in Round 16. In the last two games, without Toko Shengelia, Voigtmann has played 39 minutes per game and his contribution will be critical against Herbalife Gran Canaria and its twin towers, Ondrej Balvin and Anzejs Pasecniks.
My team looks awesome from here. Better than ever. Of course, reality may be a bit different, but we will see on Friday night. Here is my lineup before Round 18:
Nick Calathes, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens (PG) – Another double-double for Calathes, who is feeling comfortable again. He faces a strong challenge against Barcelona.
Nando De Colo, CSKA Moscow (SG) – Nando had a very solid game against Darussafaka, 17 points in 19 minutes. The further into the season we go, the more reliable De Colo will be.
Will Clyburn, CSKA Moscow (SF) – Like I said, he comes off his worst Fantasy Challenge game since October, but still got 12.1 fantasy points. A must-have player at small forward.
Derrick Williams, FC Bayern Munich (PF) – One of the most pleasant surprises in the competition. Williams has been really solid and seems a good fit against Milan. He's my team captain.
Jan Vesely, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul (C) – He usually plays well against Zalgiris, so that is a good reason to keep him. Another one? He leads the EuroLeague in PIR. Enough said?
Norris Cole, Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (G) – Had a monster game against Maccabi, just as expected, and should keep his momentum going against a fast-paced team like Darussafaka.
Johannes Voigtmann, KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz (F) – He is playing really well lately -- and playing a lot. That is usually good in terms of fantasy points.
Goga Bitadze, Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (U) – He is surprising everybody so far. Bitadze will not have it easy against Michael Eric and Jeremy Evans, but it is a good challenge for him.
That's all I have before Round 18. Good luck, EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge managers! Enjoy another great round of games! The Spanish giants vs. the Greek giants? I wouldn't miss those two games!