The 2021-22 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season already started and therefore the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge is underway. Home-court advantage was definitely a factor in Round 1. Only one team, Zenit St Petersburg, was able to win on the road; it defeated UNICS Kazan in a thriller. AX Armani Exchange Milan bested CSKA Moscow, which lost Nikola Milutimov due to injury. Real Madrid topped defending champion Anadolu Efes Istanbul behind outstanding defense. AS Monaco, led by Mike James and Danilo Andjusic, had a pleasant EuroLeague debut, topping Panathinaikos OPAP Athens. FC Barcelona, Olympiacos Piraeus, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv and Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul also successfully defended their respective home courts in Round 1.
As for my team, Gancedato had a fairly average start in the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge. My starting five was pretty good, but my bench players, other than Youssoupha Fall of ASVEL, struggled a little bit. This is why I have decided to make my bench stronger by adding some players who did well in Round 1 – and who should keep their personal momentum going. I am also taking into account some of the injuries that took place in the last few days, especially one. ALBA lost Marcus Eriksson for several weeks – get well soon, Marcus! – and I have several ALBA perimeter players that I thought of selling, but won’t now since they will see more playing time. Gancedato scored 134.05 points and ranks 4,520th overall in a league of 46,000 teams. Nobody said it was going to be easy.
Three trades are allowed per round plus the coach. I am happy with Zvezdan Mitrovic of Monaco. His team is playing well and returns to Kazan to face UNICS. In its last trip to Basket Hall Kazan, Monaco lifted the EuroCup trophy and that should inspire the Principality powerhouse to play another great game. I am selling Kyle Kuric of Barcelona because he didn’t have a great score, even though a great shooter like him can step up anytime. I am also selling Marco Spissu of UNICS because he didn’t see as much playing time as I expected and I believe I have better options at guard. And I am selling James because he plays against his former coach, Velimir Perasovic, who should probably have a specific game plan against him.
So I need to add three new players. One of them is Nikola Ivanovic of Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, who had a sensational performance in his team’s loss against Fenerbahce. He is ready to bounce back after a tough game (-3 PIR) in Adriatic League action against his previous team, Buducnost VOLI Podgorica. Ivanovic is not the kind of player who will play badly at home twice in a row. Speaking of Zvezda, Luka Mitrovic had a fantastic game against Buducnost and I am buying him at forward. Of course, I am getting Shane Larkin of Efes because his team plays at home against CSKA Moscow and comes off a loss. I expect Larkin to have a sensational game.
So Gancedato looks like this, after some minor changes, before Round 2:
Shane Larkin, Anadolu Efes Istanbul – He had the highest PIR in Round 1, 35, despite his team’s loss. I believe Larkin should have yet another outstanding game against mighty CSKA.
Nikola Ivanovic, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade – Yes, I am moving Ivanovic to the starting lineup. He played really well in Round 1 and Maccabi plays at a rhythm that suits him well.
Ioannis Papapetrou, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens – So far, I have blind confidence in his all-around skills. He is a good rebounder who doesn’t make many mistakes. Perfect for this game.
Sasha Vezenkov, Olympiacos Piraeus – Vezenkov did what I expected and more, leading Olympiacos to its first win. A bigger opponent like Real Madrid presents a bigger challenge for him.
Devin Booker, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul – Without putting up big numbers, Booker tied for the fifth-best center in the game in Round 1. On a good night, his PIR should be much higher.
Maodo Lo, ALBA Berlin – Lo is now my sixth man. Without Eriksson, he should have even more opportunities to score. Lo has a bigger role this season and this is key in Fantasy.
Luka Mitrovic, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade – Maik Zirbes is out due to COVID-19, so Mitrovic should see extended playing time. He comes off a strong performance (21 PIR) in the Adriatic League.
Ognjen Jaramaz, FC Bayern Munich – Honestly, I was thinking of releasing him, but he had a huge game in the German Cup (26 points on 6-of-6 triples) so I am keeping him one more week.
Youssoupha Fall, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne – Fall narrowly missed a double-double in Round 1, getting 12 points and 9 rebounds against Zalgiris Kaunas. ALBA has frontcourt injuries, too.
Yovel Zoosman, ALBA Berlin – Again, Eriksson is out, so someone has to play more minutes from now on. I trust that Zoosman should use the extended playing time to prove his great value.
That is all I have before Round 2. Good luck, Fantasy Challenge managers, and enjoy a new round of Turkish Airlines EuroLeague games!