Life is good here in Barcelona: Euroleague basketball is back, Christmas is just around the corner, and my team Cajasol won five of its last six games. We needed, like, 25 games to get that fifth win last season. I’m heading down to Fuenlabrada for our road game on Saturday. People may wonder why, being in the Euroleague and talking to a lot of great players and coaches, I chose to be a Cajasol fan. Well, first of all, I am from Sevilla – and proud of it! And second, you are what you are: Once a Cajasol fan, always a Cajasol fan.
Anyway, enough is enough – Let’s start with the Fantasy Challenge. I had to give may team much thought this week, even though I haven’t traded yet: I always do that while writing this column. It’s all about game philosophy of accumulating more money or trying to find underrated superstars. I didn’t expect to be playing for money for so long, but I decided to do so one more time; therefore I will trade players that I think are already overrated and go for moneymakers.
At 658 credits or so, I am quite rich and the team has started to work well, too. I almost scored 170 points and went up to 12th place in the BallinEurope Invitational Challenge overall standings. My team was a little bit like Ramunas Siskauskas last season: a slow start, a period of getting in shape, and then rolling into the Top 16. I am still accumulating points, though, and believe that if I have the richest team, it will pay off in the long run. And that’s when the fun part comes: in finding out!
So ladies (?) and gentlemen, let’s see what’s shaking. First of all, I was supposed to trade Milos Teodosic but now I won’t, because Theo Papaloukas has the flu and Teodosic will see extended playing time – in his own country! So my first trade will be Je’kel Foster, thanking him for the 15 credits, due to the fact that EWE Baskets faces Panathinaikos. Tough one.
Zalgiris plays Fenerbahce Ulker, with its many big guys and Omer Asik to intimidate everyone. Therefore, I am trading Travis Watson, even when I think he will have a good game. With Brad Oleson sidelined, Fernando San Emeterio should see more playing time but possibly against Siskauskas. Not good. Then Pete Mickeal plays against Romain Sato and I don’t like that, either. I am keeping San Emeterio for one more week only and trading Sato. “Why Sato and not Mickeal?” you may ask. Because Barcelona is a better defensive team, that’s all.
I want Matt Walsh in the game, no matter what; Walsh has been red hot in Ljubljana and even though Rodrigo De La Fuente is a good defensive player, Walsh has been playing very well. Plus he’s very underrated and will give me 10 extra credits just like that. Then I am picking up Ioannis Bourousis. If Nikola Vujcic has physical problems, Bourousis will play more minutes, and already scored a 32 index in 12 minutes the other day. That leaves me with almost 100 credits for a SG/SF. Since I don’t particularly like anybody, I am picking Taquan Dean just because he is underrated.
What a strange lineup I ended up having. Here it goes:
Bo McCalebb. With four double-digit games, plus leading his team in assists and 21/22 free throws so far, he’s rock solid.
Milos Teodosic. No Papaloukas means more minutes. Playing in Serbia is a plus for him.
Matt Walsh. Even when he looks like Gene Wilder in the 1984 movie “The Woman in Red,” he is a great scorer.
Pete Mickeal. A natural matchup against Sato and Domercant. I’m not very confident, but Pete is always productive.
Fernando San Emeterio is a gamble, because I wanted Walsh in my team. Without Oleson, San Emeterio will play 20-23 minutes.
Taquan Dean. Very underrated and an elite shooter, plus Unicaja plays at home against Lietuvos rytas.
Ioannis Bourousis. An All-Euroleague center at 58 credits? And he just won weekly MVP? Bring him in!
Ali Traore. Waiting for Curtis Borchardt to be back in the team, but Traore is the best player in Asvel so far.
Darjus Lavrinovic: But of course! Lavrinovic will be here for a long time – and maybe his brother, too.
Aleks Maric. A surprise. Maric went from backup in CB Granada to Euroleague star. Seeing is believing.
That’s all from me this week. Trade wisely, enjoy a wild Euroleague week and, if you can, keep an eye on that Montepaschi-Regal FCB game that promises to be an instant classic!