Here comes Round 26 with a lot of action packed into nine exciting games. Real Madrid is about to punch its playoffs ticket and remains undefeated at home in this Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season, but FC Barcelona already beat Los Blancos at WiZink Center in Spanish League action and wants to do it again. Also in Round 26, the Eastern classic between Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv and CSKA Moscow returns to Menora Mivtachim Arena. Olympiacos Pireaus and Anadolu Efes Istanbul is one of the most repeated matchups since the turn of the millenium - both teams are set to face each other for the 44th time since 2000. Every game matters in the fight to reach the playoffs, and every round should be even more intense and interesting from now on.
Fantasy tips: good options under 10 credits
Some milestones were achieved last week, too. Alexey Shved of CSKA Moscow became the 10th player to reach the 3,000-point mark. Jan Vesely of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul and Kyle Hines of AX Armani Exchange Milan should join that exclusive club at some point this season. John Brown of UNICS Kazan set a new record for most steals in a EuroLeague season, 66 and counting. Manu Ginobili of Kinder Bologna had the previous record with 64 steals in 2000-01, the competition's original season. Round 26 could see Hines become the top offensive rebounder in EuroLeague history. He needs 5 of those to get 706 and go past Felipe Reyes, who leads the standings at 705. As you see, there is always something going on in the EuroLeague, and that is always important in the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge. Every game bring something extra!
As always, we are recommending five players this week, including Round 25 MVP. Other choices include a one-of-a-king combo guard who can be unstoppable at times, a big man who explosiveness is making him reach higher than ever, another athletic forward stepping up in tough times, and arguably the best rebounder, inch to inch, in basketball right now.
Nikola Milutinov, CSKA Moscow (14.2 credits) - Everyone saw it coming, and it is finally happening. Milutinov is back in shape and that means one of the best Fantasy Challenge players in recent seasons is ready to deliver. Milutinov is a great rebounder who barely misses shots, goes to the foul line often and is really effective all around. Expect him to keep rolling and getting really good PIRs.
Lukas Lekavicius, Zalgiris Kaunas (7.6 credits) - A cheap option to either start or not, as Zalgiris plays on Thursday. That means you can risk to play Lekavicius right away. It is a calculated risk, too, as Lekavicius is averaging 15.0 points and a PIR of 19.5 in the last two games, and already had a PIR of 15 against Zalgiris's next opponent, Monaco. And all for less than 8 credits!
Alex Poythress, Zenit St Petersburg (10.2 credits) - Things did not look good for Poythress in his team's Round 25 game against Real Madrid but he stepped up big, getting 21 points, 8 rebounds and a PIR of 23. Arturas Gudaitis has been sidelined and Poythress has made the most of his extended playing time, averaging 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and a PIR of 19.7 in the last three games.
Jeremy Evans, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens (8.1 credits) - Panathinaikos is without Ioannis Papapetrou, so some players are seeing extended playing time. One of them is Evans, who has adjusted to the power forward and center positions, starting the games but also playing alongside Georgios Papagiannis when he comes off the bench. He averages a PIR of 15.3 in the last three games, too.
Marcos Knight, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne (8.5 credits) - In ASVEL's first game since Elie Okobo went down due to injury, Knight had a truly standout performance. He finished the game with EuroLeague career-highs of 21 points, 12 rebounds a PIR of 30. Knight is an 188cm swingman averaging 5.0 rebounds per night - which is more or less what he did at all levels, all career long. Outstanding!