We come off a very interesting two-round week in which a lot happened. Five teams - Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, FC Barcelona, CSKA Moscow, AX Armani Exchange Milan and Real Madrid - won both games, with the latter three doing so twice at home. Most teams protected their home floors as only Barcelona, Baskonia and Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv won on the road in Round 3 or 4. Barcelona needed overtime to beat Olympiacos Piraeus and AS Monaco. Baskonia shook off a 0-2 start with wins against Panathinaikos OPAP Athens and ALBA Berlin. Overall, it was a very balanced week, with many games decided right at the buzzer and several comebacks - none more impressive than LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne's rally against the defending champion, Anadolu Efes Istanbul.
As for the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge, things are a bit better since an option in the game became a rule. It is simple - as a general rule, keep on the bench those players whose games are scheduled on the second night of the round and who you don't want to be team captain. You can always add them if the players in the first turn don't do well. If they do, you keep the second turn players on the bench and if they don't, you get a second chance. I had not used this option until now because most of my players played on the first night until now, but I will make sure I use it from now on. Gancedato scored 113.7 points and ranks 1,888th overall with 515.5 points. I am less than 20 points away from the top 1,000 and that is my next goal.
Three trades, plus the head coach, are allowed each week until the end of the regular season. By now, you should have figured out that choosing the right head coach makes a big difference. For now, I am choosing the cheapest coach who I think it will win unless I have more credits left in any week. In Round 5, that is Dejan Radonjic of Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade. At only 5.7 credits, he seems like a good choice and at the same time, there is no guarantee that Zvezda should beat ALBA Berlin, but I like its chances because it plays at home and the team is in good rhythm. I need to make room for the two players I want in Round 5, so I am selling two expensive players - center Devin Booker of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul and forward Sasha Vezenkov of Olympiacos. I promised myself not to sell Vezenkov, and it took me four weeks to break my promise, but that's Fantasy Challenge in a nutshell - you have to improvise. I am also selling Jayson Granger of Baskonia to make room for other players.
The two players I want no matter what in Round 5 are Mike James of AS Monaco and Nikola Kalinic of Zvezda. James is coming off the bench and making things happen right away and plays against one of the teams that employed him in the past, Baskonia, so that is always a plus. Looking back, James usually plays well against Baskonia, so I like his chances in this game despite facing a good defender in Wade Baldwin IV. I am buying Kalinic because ALBA may struggle with his versatility, experience and aggressiveness. He is rebounding well and finishing each game with solid PIR numbers. I don't have much money left - or any of it - so I am going for the only reliable player I can afford: Marek Blazevic of Zalgiris. Without Joffrey Lauvergne, Josh Nebo and Blazevic should split minutes at center, so why not have both? That's what I did.
Gancedato looks like this before Round 5:
Chris Jones, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne (9.1 credits) - Jones has played well in every game so far and is still a relatively cheap player in Fantasy, so there is no reason to sell him. One more week for him.
Mike James, AS Monaco (16.1 credits) – James goes out there, scores a lot, draws a lot of fouls, passes the ball more than most people think, rebounds and usually gets a terrific PIR. Team captain.
Nikola Kalinic, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade (11.5 credits) – I spent all the fantasy credits I had to buy him! Kalinic rebounds a lot, is an effective shooter and should step up like he did last week.
Ioannis Papapetrou, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens (11.6 credits) - I think he has some advantages on offense against Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv, even though Ioannis Sfairopoulos coached him in the past. We'll see.
Josh Nebo, Zalgiris Kaunas (10.4 credits) - All he does well seems to be tailor-made for this game - finish above the rim with great effectiveness, rebound, block shots. Nebo for president!
Oscar da Silva, ALBA Berlin (7.2 credits) - He should be on my team as long as ALBA has so many frontcourt injuries… or until his price goes up so much that I consider selling him. Until then, no way.
Marek Blazevic (4.1 credits) - Even if I sell Nebo, I should keep Blazevic on my team as long as he plays. He is one of the cheapest players in the game and sees playing time (13 minutes in Belgrade).
Maodo Lo, ALBA Berlin (8.5 credits) - One more week for Maodo, who has been up and down so far this season. I like his chances against Zvezda and this is why he stays for, at least, one more week.
Luka Mitrovic, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade (6.9 credits) - Another good scorer who rarely makes mistakes. I am happy to see Mitrovic in good shape after so many injuries, too. He is a great guy.
Iffe Lundberg, CSKA Moscow (9.8 credits) - Keeping him on the bench just in case Jones doesn't deliver. Lundberg has not played well lately, but I have a lot of faith in him. He should bounce back.
Head coach: Dejan Radonjic (5.7 credits) - His team plays at home and is has been great on defense lately. No other reason.
That's all I have for you today. Stay safe and don't miss Round 5 of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season! Good luck in the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge!