Round 13 of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague was one of the most thrilling until now. In the big game, the rematch of last season’s championship game, FC Barcelona needed overtime to defeat Anadolu Efes Istanbul 93-95 at Sinan Erdem Sports Hall. Four players – Nico Laprovittola, Kyle Kuric, Nikola Mirotic and Sertac Sanli – had PIRs of 18 or higher for Barcelona. In another overtime thriller, Olympiacos Piraeus bested UNICS Kazan 84-87 behind an outstanding performance from Sasha Vezenkov. Real Madrid rallied to beat Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv 72-70 on a go-ahead basket by Guerschon Yabusele. Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade topped Zenit St Peterburg on the road, and the other games were won by the home teams: CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, Zalgiris Kaunas, FC Bayern Munich and ALBA Berlin.
So here comes Round 14, highlighted by El Clasico. Real and Barcelona fight for first place, which makes this highly-anticipated game even bigger. As for the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge, my team Gancedato had a solid performance last week and scored 164.75 points. Steven Enoch stayed on as team captain after getting a PIR of 23 in Kaunas and everyone, more or less, played well, especially my bench players; signing Andrey Zubkov, who had his best game of the season, was definitely a plus. I was 3,142nd in the Round 13 standings and moved up to 726th overall. It is now time to prove that it was not a one-time thing and that I can do even better.
Three trades are allowed before each round until the end of the regular season. I have to make the most out of them, as always. I am selling Shane Larkin of Anadolu Efes Istanbul because his team plays against a great defensive team, FC Bayern Munich. Yeah, I hear you, a team he once scored 49 points against, but that was two years ago, with a different coach in Munich. I am also letting John Brown III go, because he did not have a really high PIR in his last two games: in the EuroLeague against Olympiacos, and in the VTB League against Tsmoki Minsk. Finally, I am selling Ognjen Dobric of Zvezda because I don’t like his team’s matchup against Olympiacos. Dobric should be back, even though I don’t like the fact that he usually scores more points than PIR. He averages 9.4 points but a PIR of 5.6. Not good for his game, generally very good for Zvezda, of course.
So, three players must replace them. Unsurprisingly, I am going for Sasha Vezenkov, who has been on fire lately. He earned Round 13 MVP honors with a PIR of 36 and is the kind of player who can play really well in consecutive games, even though I am not a big fan of his matchup against Nikola Kalinic. I am also signing Iffe Lundberg of CSKA. I know, he has not been a great option for me in the past, but if Daniel Hackett remains sidelined, he should have a bigger role. I am also adding Lorenzo Brown of UNICS. He has been playing really well, averaging 17.0 points on 19-of-26 two-point shooting, 4.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists in UNICS’s last three games.
So Gancedato looks like this before Round 14. Wish me luck, Fantasy Challenge managers out there. Oh, by the way, I went back to Neven Spahija as head coach.
Lorenzo Brown, UNICS Kazan (12.0 credits) – He has been really solid lately, posting great numbers. I like his chances to show what he can do against Scottie Wilbekin in Tel Aviv.
Elie Okobo, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne (11.7 credits) – Not an easy game for ASVEL at Buesa Arena, but this is the kind of situation in which superstars like Okobo step up. We will see.
Mario Hezonja, UNICS Kazan (12.0 credits) – I am giving Super Mario extra confidence despite getting a PIR of 11 in Round 13. I believe he should bounce back against Maccabi.
Sasha Vezenkov, Olympiacos Piraeus (12.3 credits) – I know, playing against Zvezda is not easy and Kalinic is a great defender, but Vezenkov is on fire and none of that should matter to him.
Steven Enoch, Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz (8.6 credits) – He has been just sensational since the day I signed him. Enoch is a star in the making and is in the right team to develop.
Iffe Lundberg, CSKA Moscow (8.8 credits) – Nemanja Nedovic was going to be my first option but he went down, so I am bringing Iffe back. CSKA needs him to have a strong game against Zalgiris.
Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona (16.7 credits) – Starting on the bench just because Barcelona plays on Friday. Against Real, no less. Mirotic had a PIR of 29 in his last EuroLeague Clasico‘.
Marek Blazevic, Zalgiris Kaunas (4.8 credits) – He is seeing limited playing time and finally, Christ Koumadje of ALBA is a solid alternative at backup center. But so far, Marek stays.
Andrey Zubkov, Zenit St Petersburg (5.5 credits) – I got lucky with Zubkov once – a PIR of 23 in Round 13 – and I am rolling the dice again in his team’s game against Fenerbahce.
Rokas Jokubaitis, FC Barcelona (7.3 credits) – It is his first EuroLeague Clasico. If I had a fourth trade, he would be probably be gone, but I hope Jokubaitis has a solid performance.
That’s all I have this week. Enjoy not just the Clasico, but every other game out there. It will be a lot of fun. And try to beat me and thousands of other managers in the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge!