Beijing will open its title defense in the same Wukesong Arena where they lifted the trophy last April.
Good news for CBA fans: It looks like the league and its schedule makers are finally starting to get it.
In an interview with CCTV yesterday, director of the Chinese Basketball Association competition department, Bai Xilin, stated that the 2012-13 season will kick off with the Beijing Ducks playing host to the Shanghai Sharks in Beijing. As to which venue it will be played in, Bai was not specific, though he did indicate. that the game would not be played at Beijing’s regular home court at Shougang Gymnasium, which in turn has opened up speculation that the two teams will play at the MasterCard Center (formerly Wukesong Arena).
No date has been set as of yet; however, Bai said the new season would start “sometime in the end of November.”
Shanghai went 18-14 last season before losing to Shanxi Zhongyu in five games in the first round of the CBA playoffs. Beijing, who went 21-11, won their first ever CBA championship, defeating then four-time defending champ, Guangdong Hongyuan, in five games.
In addition to the season opener, Bai also touched on some other league issues: There will be no changes to the structure of the schedule this season, nor will there be a salary cap. Widespread changes to the league have been discussed by owners and investors over the course of the offseason, talks which have come both as a result of last season’s record breaking foreign player salaries and the failure of the Chinese National Team to win a game at this summer’s Olympics in London. Bai hinted, however, that talks are ongoing and that reforms will likely take place in 2013-14.
The Ducks-Sharks showdown in Wukesong should have fans excited. And if that matchup indeed holds to be true, bravo to the CBA. Deciding to continue the incredible fan support Beijing built up last year en route to their championship by playing the first game of the year at the 18,000 seat, NBA-caliber Wukesong Arena — a venue which the team sold out in each of their three Finals games against Guangdong — will be a great way to keep that excitement going into this year.
And big kudos to the matchup itself, too. Although Shanghai doesn’t have a lot of on-court history with Beijing, the two cities have their fair share of beef as the longstanding Jing-Hu which-city-is-better-debate generally exemplifies the whole North-South rivalry that exists inside of Chinese culture. People will be amped to get to the stadium and cheer on their defending champs regardless of the opponent, but the fact that the matchup will have genuine meaning will only add to what should be a great occasion.