Hello everybody at BallinEurope, this is once again Javier Gancedo, all the way from Euroleague headquarters in Barcelona. This has been arguably the best Top 16 since I joined the company in 2003. I have great memories of my first Top 16 as an insider (Sharp’s three-pointer against Zalgiris, Basile’s triple against Efes followed by the one-point win in Pau on free throws by Vujanic, and great games every single week) but this one could be even better.
It has also been a great Top 16 fantasy-wise, for me at least: I have three teams ranked 6th or better in the Top 16 standings, plus two more in the best 20. Again, it is just an anecdote, because I can’t win. But it is nice to do well.
Of course, the luck I’m having will soon fade, but I hope to at least finish with a decent ranking overall and keep my privileged position in the BallinEurope private league. In fact, the fantasy week looks more complicated than ever. With too many tough games this week, I just don’t know where to start…
I have to be loyal to my own principles and trade both Terrell McIntyre and Ksistof Lavrinovic, just because they play against CSKA. Then I have doubts about Sergio Llull and David Hawkins. Llull has been playing fantastic but I doubt he will keep that extraordinary level when Raul Lopez comes back, possibly in Week 4. Then Hawkins plays against Tau Ceramica. Last time Hawkins was in Vitoria, like two years ago, he had a -6 index.
So Hawkins is out. Let’s see about additions. I’m tempted to sign D’or Fischer but he won’t have it easy against Hervelle and Van den Spiegel, so I am going to give Ioannis Bourousis a chance. He hasn’t played really well recently but oh well, I like him a lot.
Then I ain’t taking risks at point guard and choose Dimitris Diamantidis, the best playmaker in the game right now. Additionally, Panathinaikos is playing high-scoring Lottomatica Roma. The shooting guard/small forward is a no-brainer, as Sani Becirovic faces his former team Panathinaikos. A talented player highly motivated in his return to OAKA? He’s my man this week.
So the team looks like this:
Sergio Llull – One of the most pleasant surprises in the Euroleague this year. How will he do against Carlos Arroyo?
Dimitris Diamantidis – had an index of 13 or more in his last six Euroleague games. Hope he keeps doing good work against Roma.
Sani Becirovic – Going back to Athens to face Panathinaikos. Should be a solid choice.
Juan Carlos Navarro – He is a must-have option when he plays at home. Navarro is once again ready to explode.
Igor Rakocevic – Well, I don’t see why people shouldn’t have him. He’s been on fire all season.
Pete Mickeal – He will not have it easy against David Hawkins, but still … he’s a winner, you know?
Ioannis Bourousis – Great offensive rebounder and always productive. He does face Pat Burke and Ronnie Burrell, though.
Felipe Reyes – Big players step up in big games, and the Madrid-Maccabi showdown is a key game for both teams.
Nikola Pekovic – Perhaps one of the most unstoppable players in this continent, and in top form right now.
Stephane Lasme – Well, Slavko Vranes and Jan Vesely had the flu all week long. Lasme should see tons of playing time.
That’s all from me today. Enjoy the big games out there, keep following the Top 16, and see you next week! Good luck!