Round 8 of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague was truly exciting and full of surprises. When the dust settled, AX Armani Exchange Milan was all alone atop the standings with a 7-1 record. Milan downed FC Barcelona at home to claim first place exclusively. Five other teams – Olympiacos Piraeus, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv and LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne – have 6-2 records. Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade limited Panathinaikos OPAP Athens to just 48 points; Nando De Colo and Jan Vesely led Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul to an important win against CSKA Moscow in the Russian capital; and Zenit St Petersburg, still without Shabazz Napier, beat Anadolu Efes Istanbul on the road. So many good games, so much excitement in the EuroLeague right now!
As for the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge, my team Gancedato did not have a great week, scoring 110.35 points. Walter Tavares had foul trouble and therefore was not a top choice of captain. Players like Josh Nebo of Zalgiris Kaunas, Nikola Mirotic of FC Barcelona and Daryl Macon of Panathinaikos did not have their best performance and their respective teams lost, plus Dmitry Kulagin of Zenit had a last-minute injury and missed the game. I dropped a few hundred spots to rank 2,929nd overall. It is time to make the most of my three trades and, of course, finally guess which team should win this week to get a head coach who will give me points. Jure Zdovc of Zalgiris had a fantasy score of -5.
Three trades, plus the coach, are allowed before each round. Let’s start with the boss. I am selling Zdovc and buying someone else. I am tempted to get the cheapest coach in the game right now, Dimitris Priftis of Panathinaikos. The Greens play against his former team, UNICS Kazan, but that is a high-pressure game for him, so I am buying a relatively cheap coach whose team plays at home: Zvezdan Mitrovic of AS Monaco. I know for a fact that FC Bayern Munich is playing better, and bringing players back from injury, but I still think Monaco has a good chance to beat them at home and therefore I am signing Coach Mitrovic.
As for the players, I am trading Nebo, thanking him for a solid performance, but I believe starting two centers is not a good idea: you have less chances to shuffle your team in the middle of the round, since centers cannot be traded if both of them are in your starting lineup. I am also trading Kulagin because he is injured. And I am trading Maodo Lo of ALBA Berlin even when he is playing well, but I want a different guard and also wanted to keep Macon and Chris Jones of ASVEL. Sorry, Maodo, but you have to go – for now.
I guess it is not very original because he is the most-owned player in the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge, but I am buying Elie Okobo of ASVEL. Okobo leads the competition in scoring (19.6 ppg.) and ranks third in PIR (20.0) – all for just 11.7 credits. As many as nine guards are more expensive than Okobo in the game, but if he keeps playing like that, he will soon be number one. I am also bringing back Marek Blazevic of Zalgiris. He is just 4.0 credits and sees playing time at center. As a backup choice, Blazevic works well for me, since Tavares is starting for sure. By the way, it’s Real vs. Zalgiris in Round 8, so we may see them play against each other. That leaves me with enough credits to sign Tadas Sedekerskis of Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz. Sedekerskis is playing well lately but the reason why I am buying him is his monster game in the Spanish League this weekend: 22 points, 11 rebounds and a PIR of 35.
So Gancedato looks like this before Round 9:
Chris Jones, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne (9.9 credits) – Jones earned Round 8 MVP honors, leading ASVEL to its sixth win in eight games. I am not even considering selling him at this point.
Elie Okobo, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne (11.7 credits) – Okobo has been unstoppable in general and did even better in the last three games. Not showing signs of slowing down. Excellent price-value balance.
Daryl Macon, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens (11.3 credits) – Macon has struggled a lot since his monster game in Round 6 against Efes. I expect him to bounce back against UNICS.
Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona (15.9 credits) – I am making him team captain. I believe Barcelona should have a strong performance against Baskonia, with Mirotic playing a leading role.
Walter Tavares, Real Madrid (16.8 credits) – Real plays at home against Zalgiris and needs to stop Josh Nebo down low. Tavares had foul trouble in Round 8 and should be at his best level again.
Oscar Da Silva, ALBA Berlin (7.8 credits) – Being perfectly honest, I believe Da Silva’s great fantasy run could be over soon with Ben Lammers and Johannes Thiemann back from injury. We will see.
Tadas Sedekerskis, Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz (7.6 credits) – He does a little bit of everything and has very few weaknesses in his game. Sedekerskis comes off a monster game on Sunday, too.
Marek Blazevic, Zalgiris Kaunas (4.0 credits) – Right now, I am investing a lot in my starting lineup so I need cheap backup players. Blazevic has a low price and sees playing time.
Tolga Gecim, Anadolu Efes Istanbul (4.0 credits) – Gecim stays one more week. At the same time, I have enough credits to keep Kulagin. If he is back in Zenit’s lineup, it will be Dima, not Tolga.
Marco Spissu, UNICS Kazan (6.2 credits) – Spissu saw less playing time against ASVEL in Round 8, so I am keeping him one more week. If he bounces back, he should stay and if not, well, goodbye.
So this is it, EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge managers. Very good luck in Round 9 in the overall standings and against your friends in the many private leagues in the game. The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague only gets better by playing the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge, and you know it!