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“Mr. 48 Minutes” Lee Hsueh-lin may finally get some rest

March 26, 2012

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With nobody else able to help Stephon Marbury run the show, Beijing’s Lee Hsueh-lin has played 238 out of a possible 240 minutes the last five games. (Photo: Osports)

Quick, other than Stephon Marbury and Randolph Morris, who has been Beijing’s most valuable player this season?

If you took a poll, either of the Ducks’ rookie soon-to-be National Team training camp combo, Zhai Xiaochuan and Zhu Yanxi, would likely receive some votes. And maybe out of respect to longtime team captain and CBA laotou, Chen Lei would get some too. And that’d all be fine.

As long as they were all second-place votes.

You can try to make the case all you want, but if you’ve come up with someone other than Lee Hsueh-lin, then you’re just plain wrong.

(My) case in point: So important is Lee to the Ducks cause against Guangdong, that coach Min Lulei has called on the Taiwanese point-guard to play 142 out of a 144 possible minutes over the Finals’ first three games. And so important was he against Shanxi in the semi-finals, that Min played him every minute of Games 4 and 5.

Let that register for a second. Five games, two whole minutes of rest.

“Mr. 48 Minutes,” as he’s recently been called by Chinese media after playing every minute for four games in a row (he was on the court or all 48 in Games 1 and 2 of the Finals), has simply been an iron man and an indispensable player for the Ducks during their playoff run.

A former star in Taiwan for the SBL’s Yulon Dinos, where he won three SBL championships in a row from 2004-2006, Lee made the jump to the CBA in September 2010 when he signed a for the Ducks, and immediately jumped into the starting lineup at point guard. Considered as one of the best guards in Taiwan when he was in high school, the 27 year-old has been a part of the Taiwanese National Team setup for the last ten years, most recently at the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship last summer in Wuhan.

After a solid debut season last year in where the Ducks made the playoffs, Lee came back even better and saw increases in steals and assists though his first eight games — all wins — while also keeping his turnovers at his usual low rate. But during that eighth game, he suffered a serious back injury that would keep him out for a little over two months. Beijing would go onto win their next five without him, but as Beijing’s thin group of guards tired as the season progressed, the team struggled to win games. After going 13-0, Beijing went just 7-10 over their next 17 games.

Lee came back for the team’s last two regular season games of the season against Shanghai and Guangsha, and his minutes had been steadily increasing throughout the first-round and semis until his recent string of 48 minute games. If you watch games, it’s hard not to see why Min feels he needs to be on the court at all times: Other than Marbury, Beijing has nobody who can handle the ball and organize the offense. He doesn’t turn the ball over, he can pressure opposing guards full-court (just ask Aaron Brooks) and he nails open threes pretty regularly. Once dubbed “the Allen Iverson of Taiwan,” Lee should really be called “the Earl Watson of Taiwan.” He may not be flashy, but he’s a solid starting point guard who generally knows what to do.

And luckily for the long-term future of Lee and of the Ducks, it looks as if Coach Min has seen why playing a dude with a bad back 48 minutes a night is probably a bad idea. Lee’s been receiving treatment immediately after every game, and with his back not completely healed and maybe getting worse, the coach has vowed that he’ll get some in-game rest from now on.

How much rest exactly, is in serious question because unless Xie Libin magically wakes up and is able to throw the ball to his teammates without an opponent getting a hand on it, Beijing still doesn’t have any other options. When at their best, Beijing goes seven deep. Guangdong of course, goes much deeper, meaning if Lee is in fact exhausted, this series is far from over; no matter where the next two games are being played.

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Friday Afternoon Bubble Tea

August 5, 2011

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It’s Beijing, it’s summer, it’s hot. So cool down with some bubble tea (with ice), chill out and take in these afternoon links.

  • As we recapped yesterday, both Titan Weekly and the Chengdu Daily reported that several CBA teams have offered deals worth over $1 million a month to superstars like Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. According to the Chengdu Daily, Wade was offered $2 million a month by Zhejiang Guangsha. But, according to a source speaking with NiuBBall, Chinese reports have been exaggerated. “There’s no way any CBA team is going to fork over $2 or $3 million for one player,” said the source. “With these new rules, there’s too much risk.” Guangsha’s GM, Ye Xiangyu, publicly denied the report.
  • John Lucas III, who has played the last two years in Shanghai, out-gunned some dude named Kevin Durant a couple days ago at Rucker Park. Maybe most of the domestic players aren’t anything to write home to the States about, but as we’ve maintained throughout this blog’s soon-to-be one-year existence, the imports here can ball.
  • Taiwanese-American Jeremy Lin is considering playing in Taiwan next year, according to the China Post. Why not China, you ask? Because he has an American passport, that’s why. Taiwan passport-holding players are considered as domestic players in the CBA, but since Lin would have dual-citizenship if he were to obtain his Taiwanese passport, the would be ruled as an American import player. And though Lin can ball well enough to probably warrant a spot on a roster as an import, CBA teams traditionally do not go after young players. So with little interest in China, Lin would be smart to look at his native Taiwan.
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One CBA Policy

September 27, 2010

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China and Taiwan’s relationship over the years can be best categorized as “status quo,” a term frequently used by cross-strait analysts.  Ever since the Kuomingtang’s arrival on the island after Mao Zedong’s Communists took over the mainland in China, the two sides have been locked in fundamental disagreement over the legitimacy of Taiwan’s democratic government.  As part of their “one China policy,” Chinese leaders consider the island as part of China. Taiwan on the other hand, rule it as a separate country.

Enormously boosting Taiwan’s cause is the United States, who openly support her right to defend herself against outside nations.  It’s a chilly arrangement that is periodically tested by U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and occasional independence-centered rhetoric that has yet to escalate into an armed conflict, the reasons for which are pretty obvious.

Despite the fragility of the relationship, Taiwan and China have practically put the independence issue out of the picture, leaving verbal disagreements at just that,  focusing instead to strengthen their relationship through economic ties.  Both China and Chinese Tapei are separate entries in the WTO, and over last few years, both countries have allowed banks and various financial service providers to operate within each other’s borders.  In 2009, the two signed a historic economic agreement that will move further to “gradually reduce and remove trade and investment barriers and create a fair environment.”

In classic Chinese fashion, Taiwan and China today continue to put the conflicting legitimacy claims far away in the distance. Choosing to maintain this status quo, delaying sources of conflict in favor of promoting mutually beneficial economics, has put the two on their best footing in cross-Strait relations history.

Of course, there’s nothing good ole’ basketball to improve relations, either.  Sina is reporting that two-time Super Basketball League champion Taiwan Beer (台湾啤酒) has applied to join the CBA and if everything goes OK, will be an official expansion team in 2011-12.  Why so eager to join?  The Taiwan-based SBL has struggled to match the growing salaries it’s cross-Strait neighbor can pay players, and has thus been finding it increasingly difficult to keep its best local players at home.  Last season, the league averaged less than 1,000 spectators per game and teams are finding it difficult to stay profitable.

The last Taiwanese team to participate in the CBA’s top division, the Tapei Sina Lions, played for two years in the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons, before removing themselves from the league, citing an inability to adapt to the CBA on the whole.  One major reason was that Tapei’s home-court was placed on mainland China in Suzhou, and not in Taiwan. Beijing Youth Daily wonders if Taiwan Beer’s potential CBA home-court would suffer the same fate, with Zhejiang being a potential spot. (H/T hoopCHINA)

Bai Linshi, Director of CBA League Offices, says the league hasn’t received any formal application as of this morning.

This is far from a done deal obviously, but I think this should be pushed through based on the prospect of adding a team called “Beer.”  Who doesn’t want more beer?  Count me as very in for more beer, as well as for some cross-Strait hoops.

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