As every week we get an insight from Euroleague Fantasy expert Arkadios, who shares his thoughts about this week.
Week 4 was the best week for me in the Top16. Mainly because everything went on as expected, except for Olympiakos’ win in Israel. Whoever had Lyn Greer in their roster should feel happy and lucky. I must admit I didn’t see that one coming. Week 5 is a do or die for most of the teams. Lose and go home or win and still hope to make it to the play-offs. Panathinaikos-Siena, Zalgiris-Olympiakos and Real Madrid-Maccabi will be the most crucial and probably the most interesting games to watch.
Theo Papaloukas: We all knew that Papaloukas always steps up when then going gets tough, and he has proved it once more during the entire Top16. Theo is a winner and a vindictive personality, so he will look to take his revenge from Unicaja for the heavy lost they sustained in Malaga some weeks ago. He was rested in CSKA’s domestic game on Sunday, so he will look fresh.
Zoran Planinic: TAU is the only team who has qualified to the play-offs. They will also probably have the easiest game of the week, versus Aris. Aris doesn’t have a PG tall or versatile enough to guard Planinic. Planinic had been playing 23 minutes per game and scoring 13 ranking points during the Top16 first round, but against Rytas he played the whole 40 minutes scoring 31 ranking points. He scored 19 ranking points in 32 minutes in TAU’s weekend domestic game.
Shooting Guards/ Small Forwards:
Vassilis Spanoulis: Against Siena Spanoulis had scored -4 ranking points but in the rest three Top16 games he has been averaging 18 ranking points with drawing an average of 7.5 fouls! I believe this is his main weapon on the offensive side and I do believe that he will be using it against against Siena. And let’s not fool ourselves, Panathinaikos is probably going to get that extra couple of easy calls from the refs. His playing time will probably grow as Hatzivrettas and Becirovic are doubtful for this particular game. He wasn’t used much by Obradovic in the weekend domestic game in order to get some rest.
Mindaugas Lukauskis: Lukauskis has been re-finding his good old Regular Season self and he has been improving his ranking points record during the entire Top16. Rytas has shifted its offensive efforts to the perimeter since both of their best big guys are our injured, Nielsen and Petravicius that is. And this is exactly what I will be betting on in order to see Lukauskis taking some extra shots. After all this is one of the do or die games I was talking about in the beginning, Rytas must win this one in order to qualify. Lukauskis scored 21 and 20 ranking points in his two domestic weekend games.
Trajan Langdon: The unquestionable CSKA leader this season will lead them once more to the win which will guarantee them the qualification to the play-offs. He has been very consistent in the Top16 and getting a lot of playing time. He was used for just 16 minutes in CSKA’s domestic weekend game, so he will look freshen up, just like his teammate Papaloukas.
Louis Bullock: Can Bullock be what Lyn Greer was last week, this week? Why not? Maccabi has not been convincing for the opposite lately and they struggle even in their domestic league games lately. Bullock has been consistent during the entire Eurolegue both in his playing and time and his ranking points scoring. He is Real Madrid’s go-to guy when it counts and he rarely lets his coach down. He scored 15 ranking points in just 18 minutes in Real Madrid’s weekend domestic game.
Power Forwards/ Centers:
Kenan Bajramovic: Bajramovic has seen his playing time increasing by 12 whole minutes in the Top16 due to Nielsen’s and Petravicius’ injuries and frankly he has been doing just fine. But luck wasn’t on Rytas side so far as they lost three games with a total margin of 10 points. However i believe this will change against Fenerbahce Ulker and Bajramovic will be a major factor in that.
Mamadou N’Diaye: Probably one of the best mid-season transfers in Euroleague. N’Diaye is a great strong player with great experience from some of the world’s best leagues, including NBA. The only Olympiakos player who can match his strength is Jackson, but he hasn’t been in the same form in the Top16 as in the regular season and he has missed some training session due to a trip to the US. And I don’t think that Bouroussis or Mavrokefalides are a match for him. All in all I expect a good game from him with a bunch of rebounds. He scored 17 ranking points in his weekend domestic game.
Nikola Pekovic: Pretty much the same reasons for which I picked him in Partizan-Efes game. And no without Woods, there is no one to mess around with Pekovic who will dominate the paint once more. I’m expecting a great game by Pekovic with a lot of playing minute, points, rebounds and drawn fouls. He scored 28 ranking points in his weekend NLB game, against a Euroleague team, Olimpija.
Andre Hutson: I always thought that Hutson is a Euroleague material player and he has been doing just fine for Efes this season. Being the only one of the ‘magnificent’ four who was spared the axe for refusing to travel to Serbia some weeks ago he saw his playing time increasing and has motivated himself to repay Efes’ GM trust in him. He was amazing against Panathinaikos in OAKA last week where I had the chance to enjoy his show and was holding Efes alone in the game. I believe he is one of the few offensive threats to Partizan with his good low post moves and even better mid range shot. So Hutson it is for me.