Round 8 was full of interesting scores; some of the teams at the bottom of the standings bounced back and when the dust settled, there was a six-way for first place which is, I think, unprecedented after 8 rounds of Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season action. Two of the biggest winners in Round 8 were ALBA Berlin and Valencia Basket. ALBA needed two overtimes to defeat Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 105-106 in the Greek capital. Ioannis Papapetrou had 39 points, the highest score for a Greek player in EuroLeague history, but ALBA prevailed with a critical three-point play by Luke Sikma and a big double-double - 20 points, 10 rebounds - by Martin Hermannsson. Valencia thrashed FC Bayern Munich 82-56 in what could be a turning point for the Spanish powerhouse this season. In El Clasico, Real Madrid topped FC Barcelona 86-76 in a back-and-forth battle, and in Moscow, CSKA downed Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul 88-70 behind strong performances from Mike James and Janis Strelnieks. LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne recorded its fifth win of the season, downing Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade on the road. Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv grabbed a 30-point road win against KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz; it was Baskonia's worst home loss ever in EuroLeague action. Olympiacos Piraeus, Khimki Moscow Region and Anadolu Efes Istanbul also recorded respective home wins.
We head into the second two-round week of the season: Round 9 will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday and Round 10 on Thursday and Friday. Some teams will play consecutive home games and that makes them more appealing for the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge this season. This time, we are giving you four cheap options plus one superstar you definitely must have for this two-game week.
Ioannis Papapetrou, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens (950,000) - After his monster game against ALBA, Papapetrou is expected to have bigger responsibilities with Panathinaikos. His team plays against two teams with good small forwards - Zalgiris Kaunas and FC Bayern Munich - and will need Papapetrou's best version.
John DiBartolomeo, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv (830,000) - Maccabi has been outstanding the last few weeks and its great basketball has allowed the Israeli champion to take a share of the lead the standings. DiBartomoleo is one of its most affordable players and has averaged 17.5 points and a PIR of 19.5 in the last two games.
Guillem Vives, Valencia Basket (820,000) - It has been a big week for Valencia in general and for Vives in particular. He had 13 points and a PIR of 16 against Bayern and followed that up with another strong performance - 15 points, 16 PIR - in the Spanish League. Right now, Vives is Valencia's starting point guard.
Martin Hermannsson, ALBA Berlin (610,000) - He is seeing a lot of playing time without injured playmakers Peyton Siva and Stefan Peno, and Hermannsson is not disappointing. ALBA's combo guard had a double-double against Panathinaikos and amassed a PIR of 16 in the German League last weekend. He's in great shape right now!
Mike James, CSKA Moscow (2.72 million) - James earned Round 8 MVP honors with a PIR of 38. He plays against Real Madrid this week, the team against which he set his EuroLeague career-best scoring effort, 35 points, last season. Plays against one of his former teams, Baskonia, also this week. What's not to like? Get James while you can!