Round 13 should be a really interesting one in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. All teams had the weekend off and should be fresh and fully reloaded to keep battling in what already is a very interesting playoffs race. Round 12 had a little bit of everything. There were five road warriors, but none of them won in more spectacular fashion than LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne. William Howard's game-winning shot against AS Monaco is one of the iconic moments in the 2021-22 EuroLeague season. Anadolu Efes Istanbul rallied to take the Turkish derby against Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul behind an outstanding Shane Larkin. UNICS Kazan, Olympiacos Piraeus and Real Madrid also registered convincing road victories. Panathinaikos OPAP Athens and ALBA Berlin bounced back with respective home wins, while CSKA Moscow and FC Barcelona successfully defended their courts, too.
It was not a pleasant Round 12 for my team, Gancedato, in EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge. Four of my main players – Luke Sikma of ALBA, Elie Okobo and Chris Jones of ASVEL, and Steven Enoch of Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz – did not reach a PIR of 10. My team captain Nikola Mirotic of Barcelona did a bit better but finished the game below his PIR average. My bench players did a bit better; John Brown of UNICS saved Round 12 for me. And Howard's game-winner costs me 10 fantasy points, as I had Zvezdan Mitrovic of Monaco as head coach. So I had 112.5 points and rank 932rd overall.
So, it is time to bounce back, and I think I know where the problem is. Three trades are allowed before each round until the end of the regular season. First, go for a head coach that will win. The cheapest option in the game is Jure Zdovc of Zalgiris Kaunas and that is a tempting one, but instead, I am buying Andrea Trinchieri of FC Bayern Munich for 6.4 credits. Bayern plays at home against ASVEL and should feel strong in front of its fans. I am selling Chris Jones of ASVEL because he is underperforming lately, Sikma because I don't like ALBA's matchup against AX Armani Exchange Milan, and Da Silva for, well, the same reason.
Next, go for the best player available, one that you think could earn the MVP of the Round honor. That should be either Mirotic or Shane Larkin of Efes. So why not have both? They are facing each other in a spectacular showdown, a rematch of last season's EuroLeague Championship Game. So I am buying Larkin. I don't have a lot of credits for two forwards, so I will go for a minimum-price backup player. I am choosing Andrey Zubkov of Zenit St Petersburg because he sees quality playing time and that is a rarity for players in his price range. Finally, I can go for either Mario Hezonja of UNICS or Sasha Vezenkov of Olympiacos. Vezenkov is on a nice streak but he should face John Brown, one of the best defenders in the competition, so I will roll the dice and choose Hezonja.
Taking into account that the team can be modified before the games on Friday, here is what Gancedato looks like at the start of Round 13:
Shane Larkin, Anadolu Efes Istanbul (15.1 credits) – Larkin has always played really well against Barcelona. He played well in Round 12 and it is a rematch of last season's EuroLeague Championship Game. No extra motivation needed!
Elie Okobo, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne (11.6 credits) – Okobo has averaged a PIR of 8.5 in the last two games, hitting just 5 of 16 two-point shots. He has a good chance to bounce back – or he will be sold in Round 14.
Mario Hezonja, UNICS Kazan (12.1 credits) – Hezonja loves Panathinaikos, everyone knows that, and his current team, UNICS, plays against Olympiacos at home. If he channels his emotions correctly, he should have a big game.
Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona (16.5 credits) – I am sure it is a game that he has marked down in red since the calendar came out. Mirotic will look for sports revenge and the best way to get it is playing really well.
Steven Enoch, Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz (8.2 credits) – I am making him team captain because only Enoch, Blazevic and Okobo play on Thursday. If I keep him as captain, it will be a good sign for him and Baskonia.
John Brown, UNICS Kazan (10.7 credits) – He has been on fire lately, averaging 15.3 points on 19-for-27 two-point shooting (70.4%), 4.7 rebounds and a PIR of 21.3 in UNICS's last three games. Why should I sell him?
Rokas Jokubaitis, FC Barcelona (7.2 credits) – Barcelona should be without Nick Calathes for the foreseeable future, so Nico Laprovittola and Jokubaitis are set to share the point guard duties. A keeper, for now.
Marek Blazevic, Zalgiris Kaunas (4.6 credits) – He ended up starting last week and getting a PIR of 11.0. A very reliable backup player, Blazevic always plays and usually gets a decent PIR. I should keep him for weeks.
Andrey Zubkov, Zenit St Petersburg (5.0 credits) – I really wanted to sign Larkin and Hezonja, plus add Trincheri as coach. I didn't have much money for a backup forward and Zubkov was, by far, the best choice.
Ognjen Dobric, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade (6.2 credits) – He comes off a good game. That, added to the fact that I don't like ALBA's chances against Milan, allowed him to stick around in Round 13. A true survivor!
That's all I have for you this week. Enjoy the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague games, with a rematch of last season's EuroLeague Championship Game and the four winningest teams in competition history going face to face: CSKA Moscow vs. Panathinaikos OPAP Athens and Real Madrid vs. Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv. How about that? Make it even better by playing EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge!