It is do-or-die time in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague! For the first time, three playoff series have reached Game 5 and we are set for a Super Tuesday full of thrills, intensity, great plays and outstanding performances in make-or-break situations. Only one team, CSKA Moscow, has made it to the Final Four and is in for a treat, as all of its players can relax at home and watch the show to see which other teams join the Russian powerhouse in Cologne. Most of CSKA's foreign players live close to each other, so I am sure some of them will get together to see this. Good luck to all six teams - Anadolu Efes Istanbul, Real Madrid, AX Armani Exchange Milan, FC Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona and Zenit St Petersburg - on Tuesday night, and shout out to Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul for a great season.
As for the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge, I attended the 7DAYS EuroCup Finals between AS Monaco and UNICS Kazan and because of that kept the same team from Game 3 to Game 4. That included a CSKA and a Fenerbahce player who didn't get any points. I did better in Round 3 of the playoffs, with a full squad, getting 152.7 points. Right now, I rank 1,846th overall and of course, need to change my team and take advantage of unlimited trades. In this situation, it comes down to who you think will win, because that team should probably get a higher PIR and its players should be among the best. No team has ever won Game 5 on the road and no one has ever rallied from a 2-0 deficit in a EuroLeague Playoffs series.
With that in mind, I am only keeping one player from a team that is playing on the road: Kevin Pangos, who has been truly outstanding in Zenit's series against Barcelona. I am selling Vladimir Lucic of Bayern, Nando De Colo of Fenerbahce and Toko Shengelia of CSKA. The first two are eliminated and cannot get points. Lucic is a controversial choice, but I want a different player at his position, who will actually play against him.
That is, of course, Shavon Shields of Milan, my first choice at small forward. Shields always steps up in big games and must be highly motivated after Game 4, in which Lucic had an alley-oop dunk-and-foul against him in crunch time. That is the kind of play that sticks around and from which you need to bounce back as soon as possible. I am bringing back Nikola Mirotic of Barcelona because I believe he should make the difference in Game 5 at home against Zenit. Finally, I am buying Zach LeDay of Milan for the first time this season - in Playoffs Game 5! I believe he is the kind of player who truly lives and dies for do-or-die games like this.
So Gancedato looks like this before Playoffs Game 5.
Vasilije Micic, Anadolu Efes Istanbul (PG) - Micic always bounces back after a bad game and he had a PIR of 0 in Game 4. Team captain!
Shane Larkin, Anadolu Efes Istanbul (SG) - Larkin had 31.0 fantasy points in Game 4, so he should keep his personal momentum going. Solid choice.
Shavon Shields, AX Armani Exchange Milan (SF) - He is the type of player made for do-or-die games. I believe Shields will prove it on Tuesday.
Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona (PF) - Back in my lineup for one of the most important games in his EuroLeague career. Mirotic should rise to the challenge.
Brandon Davies, FC Barcelona (C) - Zenit found answers against Davies in Game 4. That should motivate him, even more, to try to take Barcelona to the Final Four.
Kevin Pangos, Zenit St Petersburg (G) - Numbers don't lie: Pangos leads the playoffs in scoring (74 points) and assists (26). He's in outstanding shape.
Cory Higgins, FC Barcelona (F) - A two-time EuroLeague champion, Higgins is the perfect player for a Game 5 situation: experienced and ready.
Zach LeDay, AX Armani Exchange Milan (U) – LeDay is an experienced, versatile player eager to make the difference in a do-or-die situation like Game 5.
That's it. Enjoy the games, it should be a Tuesday night to remember, as you witness EuroLeague history being written. At the end of the night, the Final Four will be set and all three winners will join CSKA in the big event in Cologne. It is a great night to enjoy watching good basketball - and it will be even better by challenging your friends at the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge!