Hello everybody, once again this is Javier Gancedo, as always from Euroleague Basketball in the last NIKEiD Fantasy Challenge blog of 2008. Looking back at the Euroleague year, it has been a fantastic one. The Final Four in Madrid was terrific; the competition system changed and it is safe to say it was an improvement; Ramunas Siskauskas was the 2008 Euroleague MVP; and we changed the website to a cooler, more stable system. Personally, I can’t complain other then about a team that never ever wins. Everyone around me knows I’m a Cajasol fan; I never hid it. So seeing my team at the bottom of the ACB table hurts. Let’s hope Santa brings some courage to those talented players that showed their skills in European basketball but somehow fail to win games in my state-of-the-art hometown Sevilla.
I am also excited because Montepaschi Siena is in town tomorrow and that is a must-watch game. Regal FC Barcelona is playing really well lately, like they showed against Panathinaikos in Athens. It reminded of a mid-nineties game in which Barcelona demolished the Greens 74-95 in the Greek capital behind 23 points from Xavi Fernandez. Barcelona played close to perfection that way but Panathinaikos had the final say, as it won the 1996 Euroleague title – its first – later on that season amid controversy. Would I be surprised to see both teams again in the Euroleague final this season? Well, it’s a possibility.
Speaking of history, it’s CSKA vs. Real Madrid this week: The teams have combined for 14 European cup crowns and 24 top continental finals. I could tell endless stories about this, since I coordinated the 50 Years of European Club Basketball projects and had to good fortune to talk to people like Lolo Sainz and Pedro Ferrandiz. Spain was under Franco’s dictatorship and the country had no relationship whatsoever with the Soviet Union. Madrid had to play the European Cup final over there, becoming the first Spanish team in any sport to travel to Moscow. Basketball beating politics for a global world? Yes indeed.
So if I were you, I would tune in to Euroleague TV for an outstanding Euroleague Wednesday. As for Fantasy Challenge, well, again I had an OK week and moved closer to the Top 3. This time it was pure luck, to be honest. I happened not to have those players that were in mind before trading and had low scores. So as usual, I will do the trades at the same time I write the blog.
Hmm… First of all, I do believe that since Victor Sada is back, he will be all over Terrell McIntyre in the big game at Palau Blaugrana. So I am trading T-Mac. Trade number two has got to be Chris Warren, playing against a low-scoring team like Unicaja. I have to thank Vedran Vukusic for the 13.2 he gave me last week, but I don’t like him against Olympiacos.
So I am taking a risk again this week by having Mantas Kalnietis. Willie Deane is gone, so Kalnietis will be playing non-stop from now on, and Zalgiris has a home game. Kalnietis is priced at just 13 credits and the trade looks suicidal, but oh well. Tau faces a couple of must-win road games, so I’m going with Igor Rakocevic for the first time this season.
This leaves me with around 69 credits for my final trade. I don’t particularly like any of the players I see available, so I am going with Turkcan because of the rebounds, and also because Joventut is short of rebounders with Mensah-Bonsu gone and Henk Norel possibly sidelined. Plus again, Fenerbache Ulker plays at home.
So the team looks like this:
Mantas Kalnietis – the big gamble this week. Is Kalnietis ready to lead Zalgiris to its first Euroleague win?
Lynn Greer – Comes off a bad game, so expect him to bounce back. Does patience lead to fantasy success?
Jonas Maciulis – Comes off an extraordinary game. Is underpriced. Maciulis stays, no doubt.
Rimantas Kaukenas – May have an advantage in offense vs. Navarro and Lakovic.
Juan Carlos Navarro – It’s a big game and Barça plays at home. Navarro must do well.
Igor Rakocevic – A newcomer in my team, as weird as it may seem. Rakocevic has been unstoppable so far.
Tiago Splitter – The All-Euroleague center should dominate against Ansu Sesay and Adam Chubb.
Andre Hutson – In great shape and ready to keep rocking. Everybody must have him, though.
Mirsad Turkcan – He should outrebound Hernandez-Sonseca, Bogdanovic and Jagla all by himself.
Mike Batiste – With Pekovic questionable, I’ve changed my mind. Batiste stays!
Since this is my last blog in 2008, I want to wish everybody out there a happy holiday break. Let’s hope that 2009 is even better than 2008 – which, in Cajasol’s case, is an easy thing to do. Hopefully!