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Tag Archives: Du Feng

Guangdong coach Li Chunjiang resigns, Jonas Kazlauskas joins staff

January 6, 2013

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Li Chunjiang and winning have gone hand-in-hand since he took over as the Guangdong Southern Tigers head coach in 2001. So it came as a shock today when team management announced that the seven-time champion coach is taking an indefinite leave away from basketball.

In his stead, longtime Southern Tigers forward, Du Feng, who has been on the bench as an assistant for both club and country the last two years, will be promoted to interim head coach. Former China National Team head coach, Lithuanian Jonas Kazlauskas, will return to China to join the team as an assistant coach/consultant.

Kazlauskas is in Guangdong with the club for their game tonight against Shanxi.

[...]

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Guo Ailun back on senior squad, Sun Yue finally reports and other National Team goodies

April 26, 2012

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To the chagrin of a vacationing tourist, Zhou Peng and Yang Ming run on the beach in Sanya. (Photo: Osports)

Sanya: For most, the most southern city in China, located on China’s tropical Hainan island, serves as a holiday getaway for beach-minded tourists looking to get away from the monotony of the Monday-to-Friday workweek.

For the Chinese Men’s Basketball Team, however, Sanya’s relaxing innocence is completely lost on the set of grueling four-a-days — as in, four practices a day – they’re being forced to go through during the one week they’ll be there as they prepare for the 2012 London Olympics and the long set of exhibition games that will precede them.

The China NT in Hainan is nothing new and actually, neither is the intense practice schedule, which went down last year as well under the direction of head coach, Bob Donewald Jr. According to Chinese media, the days are comparable to a 24 Hour Fitness Center: Running, swimming, weights, individual skills work, full-team practices and recovery are all on the docket until the 29th, when they’ll get on a plane and come back to Beijing.

Liu Wei’s said he’s never felt this tired in four years, Wang Zhizhi says the hard work is only made harder by the four showers and four changes of clothes he’s taking each day. We say: We’ve never felt more dissapointed to see professional athletes running on the beach in shoes. Honestly, we don’t know what’s worse — knowing that those nice Nike’s are going be scuffed up and dirty after about 30 seconds, or that little specs of sand are going to permanently lodged inside the shoe no matter how hard or how long they shake them out once their run is over. Please, somebody make these guys run barefoot. (Which someone apparently did. That’s more like it!)

We’ll ignore the poor choice in beachwear and instead focus on the sweat being poured in Southern China. So in honor of Team Big Red and all of their hard work though these unenviable four-a-days, here’s four National Team bullets that should keep everyone up to date on what’s been going on during the last month of closed-door practices.

  • The best player not playing in the CBA, Sun Yue, is now officially with the National Team after he reported from Beijing Aoshen on the 24th. That means the team is short only one player, Yi Jianlian, who is with the Dallas Mavericks getting ready for their NBA title defense. Before getting into Hainan, Sun was with the Olympians as they toured Hunan province playing nine games against fifth-rate competition against teams like the San Diego Surf. Wang Shipeng is also now with the team; according to hoopCHINA (or are we supposed to call it HuPu now?) Wang was in Hong Kong undergoing treatment for an undisclosed injury.
  • Guo Ailun, who was originally put on the China Olympic National Team (which is just a fancy way of saying the Junior National Team), is now with the Senior squad after he was called up by the CBA powers-that-be on April 14th. Guo had a troubled year with the National Team set-up last year; first, he was cut early from Donewald’s FIBA Asia Championship roster and then followed that up by organizing a blood letter in an effort to removes Olympic National Team head coach, Fan Bin. Guo’s inclusion in the National Team set-up means there are now four young point-guards vying for spots on the final 12-man roster, Guo, Yang Ming, Xirelijiang and Chen Jianghua. Donewald has gone on the record saying that he’ll take two of the four to London; which ones will depend on who can defend and take care of the ball, the two attributes Donewald has historically looked for in his Team China point guards. Guo did not make the trip to Sanya.
  • Another addition: Du Feng, who is now working as an assistant after former assistant, Selcuk Ernak, left the team to pursue coaching opportunities in his native Turkey. Du recently retired from the CBA after spending 14 years with the Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers and acted as an assistant on the team’s bench this past season. He joins Li Nan to form what is for now, an all Chinese assistant staff.
  • Before the team went to Sanya, they were surprised by the visit of one Yao Ming, who took in practice from the sidelines in a black pants-white button up shirt combo. He declined interviews. But media, inspired by Big Yao’s appearance, went right to work on Donewald, asking him if he thought young Wang Zhelin could be China’s next Yao Ming. His answer: No. The question marked the 782nd time in the last month that a member of the media has made the Yao-Wang comparison, which puts everything on course for the golden 1,000-mark sometime by the end of May.
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Du Feng to retire after 14 seasons

March 20, 2012

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One of the best all-around big men in CBA history, Du Feng is retiring after 14 seasons. (Photo: Osports)

Du Feng is officially retiring from basketball. To mark the end of his career, the 14 year veteran will hold a farewell game on April 6 in DongGuan featuring several current CBA stars, including Wang Zhizhi, Sun Yue, Mengke Bateer and Tang Zhengdong.

Over the course of an illustrious domestic career that saw him pull down seven CBA championships, From his debut season in 1997-98, Du amassed career totals of 6720 points, 2327 rebounds, 730 assists, 442 steals and 184 blocks. His point total is good for ninth on the CBA all-time rankings. In the 2004 Finals, he averaged 21 points and 8.7 rebounds en route to his first and only Finals MVP trophy.

Du also served for the Chinese National Team, playing in the Olympics in both Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

After playing sparingly last season, Du gave up his spot on Guangdong’s 15-man roster this season to make way for younger players. He has instead been serving as an assistant coach for the team, a role that he is expected to continue for Guangdong next season and possibly beyond.

Casual and hardcore Western CBA fans alike will recognize Du Feng as the guy who was slapped to the ground by Charles Gaines, who played for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers at the time, after Du head-butted the American in the closing seconds of Game 2 of the 2010 CBA Finals. Motionless on the floor, Du was wrapped up in an Anta towel, carried off in a stretcher and given oxygen in the team’s locker room before being taken taken to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with a mild concussion. No suspensions were given out by the league and both Du an Gaines played Game 3 in Urumqi.

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Senior and Olympic National Team Rosters announced

March 16, 2012

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After starring at the youth international level, Wang Zhelin has been selected for the Senior National Team, despite never playing at the top level in the CBA.

The CBA Playoffs are approaching its end and spring is coming to Beijing, which means soon we’ll be able to sit outside and engage in our favorite warm-weather pastime, beer and chuanr. Oh, and it also means that the National Team season is about to kick off.

Yesterday, the official rosters for both the Men’s Senior National Team and the Men’s Olympic National Team were announced. 21 players were selected for the Senior Team, while 19 were picked for the Olympic Team.

To answer some people’s question: No, the Olympic Team doesn’t actually play in the Olympics. I know, it’s strange. Just roll with it. According to the CBA, the goal of the Olympic Team is to ”prepare for the 2012 Asia Stankovic Cup, to be played this September in Japan, and the 2013 East Asia Games in Tianjin. To select the best players for the 2016 Olympics and develop high level backup players.”

The Senior Team, however, does play in the Olympics. And with the Olympics coming up in August, this is a huge summer for Chinese basketball. The CBA considers the Olympics as the most important international competition, and views the tournament as the best way for China to showcase themselves to the rest of the world.

In order to space everything out and give players some rest, the Senior team roster has been split up into three groups, with players whose season ended at the end of the regular season to report first, while players who are in the midst of deep playoff runs to report last.

The usual suspects are all on there, but the big story are the three players making their National Team debut, including one who doesn’t even play in the CBA yet. If you’ve been paying attention, you shouldn’t be shocked by the inclusion of Beijing’s young duo of Zhai Xiaochuan and Zhu Yanxi, who’s selection into Bob Donewald’s roster was basically assured by midseason.

The real shocker is Wang Zhelin, Fujian’s long hyped 18 year-old seven-foot center. One of the brightest prospects in China, Wang nabbed tournament MVP in China’s gold medal run FIBA Asia U-18 Championship in 2010 and was a key member in the FIBA World U-19 Championship last year where China finished 13th. Wang did not play top level CBA ball this year, as the team opted to keep him with the second team in order to improve his body and conditioning. One of the key long-term pieces for China, his entrance onto the team says a lot about the expectations the CBA has for him going forward.

He is widely expected to make his CBA debut next season.

Notable omissions from the Senior squad include 2010 FIBA World Championship and 2011 FIBA Asia Championship backup guard, Yu Shulong, who plays domestically for Jilin and Qingdao’s Li Gen. With Osama Dahglas getting most of the minutes at point guard in Jilin this year, the 22 year-old Yu averaged a career low 15.5 minutes per game. Li Gen, who played under Donewald in Shanghai in 2008-09, missed the cut despite averaging 17.5 points per game, the most of any Chinese player in the CBA this season.

For the Olympic squad, Guo Ailun and Fan Bin come back together for the first time since Guo reportedly lead a U-19 player rebellion against their head coach last year, demanding that he be removed due to his repeated physical and verbal abuse. Guo and most of the team signed a ”blood letter” to show the seriousness of the situation. Fan was suspended in April before finally being reinstated in May, promising to be more sensitive to his players emotions.

The entire rosters are listed below. The Senior team will eventually be cut down to 12, the timeline of which has yet to be publicly announced.

Men’s Senior National Team

Head Coach: Bob Donewald Jr. (USA)
Assistant Coaches: Li Nan (China), Selcuk Ernak (Turkey)

Group 1 (to report on March 20th)

Yang Ming, Han Dejun, Li Xiaoxu (Liaoning Hengye); Wang Zhizhi, Zhang Bo (Bayi Fubang); Zhang Zhaoxu (Shanghai Dongfang); Ding Jinhui (Zhejiang Chouzhou); Yi Li (Jiangsu Nangang); Wang Zhelin (Fujian SBS)

Group 2 (to report on April 8th)

Liu Wei (Shanghai Dongfang); Xirelijiang (Xinjiang Guanghui)

Group 3 (to report 15 days after each player’s respective season)

Wang Shipeng, Chen Jianghua, Zhou Peng, Zhu Fangyu, Su Wei (Guangdong Hongyuan); Sun Yue (Beijing Aoshen); Zhai Xiaochuan, Zhu Yanxi (Beijing Shougang); Duan Jiangpeng (Shanxi Zhongyu); Yi Jianlian (Dallas Mavericks)

Men’s Olympic National Team

Head Coach: Fan Bin (China)
Assistant Coaches: Du Feng, Wu Naiqun (China)

Li Muhao, He Zhongmian (DongGuan New Century); He Tianju, Guo Ailun (Liaoning Hengye); Wang Zirui (Zhejiang Guangsha); Dong Hanlin (Guangdong Hongyuan); Xu Zhonghao, Cao Yan, Tian Yuxiang (Bayi Fubang); Ge Zhaobao, Yan Pengfei, Xing Zhiqiang (Shanxi Zhongyu); Ding Yanyuhan, Sui Ran (Shandong Kingston); Yu Changdong (Xinjiang Guanghui); Zhang Zhihan (Tianjin Ronggang); Zhao Tailong (Fujian SBS) Yu Shulong (Jilin SBT); Li Gen (Qingdao Double Star)

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2011-2012 CBA Preview

November 20, 2011

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J.R. Smith is just one of many reasons why people are more excited than ever to watch the CBA this season.

Technically, the 2011-12 regular season started tonight. Paced by Othello Hunter’s 11 points and 21 rebounds The visiting Shandong Golden Bulls took out the Foshan Dralions in front of a national audience, 93-79.

Normally, that’d take some of the shine off of fresh off the press 2011-12 CBA preview. Thing is though, this preview is anything but normal.

For your viewing pleasure, we’re not only previewing every single team for the new season, we’re putting in a power rankings, too. Yeah — there’s almost 6,000 English words on Chinese basketball in this beast. We don’t want to toot our own horns or anything, but we think that’s got to be a record.

Read it all at once right now, print it out and take it on the go, or break it all up into easy to manage blocks. And as always, if you have any questions, hit up the comments.

Throughout the season, we’ll be updating the power rankings, probably every Monday.

Note: *Indicates an import who is playing his first season in the CBA.

1. Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers
2010-11 record: 25-7 (2nd place, won CBA Championship)
Head Coach: Li Chunjiang (5th year)
Imports: James Singleton, Aaron Brooks*

Rule number one of NiuBBall Chinese Basketball Association power rankings: The champs are put at the top at the beginning of the year — no matter what other teams with Tigers for mascots have done in the off-season.

So like they would have been for the past four years, Guangdong starts the season in pole position. And that decision isn’t solely based on the fact that their reigning champs. As it stands right now, they’re also a lot more talented than they were last year, primarily thanks to an ongoing labor dispute in America.

No team has benefited more from the NBA lockout than Guangdong, who have bolstered their already championship-caliber roster with not one but two players who played in the League last season.

Both will be very familiar to China. After spending five years in the States, Yi Jianlian, has returned to his hometown squad that raised him from youth. Having clearly emerged as the leader of the post-Yao Team China setup at the FIBA Asia Championship this summer in Wuhan, Yi returns to China playing perhaps the best ball of his career. Unlike other NBA-to-CBA hoopers, Ah Lian has a special out-clause that will allow him a free passage back to America if/when the lockout ends.

Joining him will be another lockout casualty, Aaron Brooks, who according to Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reportedly committed to joining Guangdong cause.

But, wait! There’s more recognizable faces heading to southern China — after helping Guangdong overcome Xinjiang in six games in the Finals, the team says goodbye to both Lester Hudson and Marcus Haislip, and hello to the guy they were game-planning against, James Singleton. A rugged player whose willing to sacrifice his own numbers for wins, Singleton will be a good fit next to Guangdong’s prolific roster. Besides making for good basketball, his move down south also adds an extra element to the Xinjiang-Guangdong rivalry, which in our eyes is the best in CBA history.

You should know the rest of the roster by now: Wang Shipeng, Zhu Fangyu, Zhou Peng and Su Wei comprise the team’s core of National Teamers that give them the match-up edge against virtually every team in the league.

If there’s any bones to pick against Guangdong this year, its that there may be too much talent. How a low-percentage chucker like Brooks will mesh with China’s laoda, Yi, and the team’s other Chinese players is a question that is on our minds heading into the season. Brooks will have his 40 point games, but as Guangdong has built its championship formula around its Chinese players, is he really what the team needs?

In any case, just mark Guangdong as a lock to be back in the Finals this year. As to who they’ll face, well that’s pretty much a lock, too…

Jon Pastuszek

2. Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers
2010-11 record: 31-1 (1st place, lost in Finals to Guangdong)
Head Coach: Bob Donewald Jr. (3rd year)
Imports: Kenyon Martin*, Quincy Douby**

What do you do if you’re a basketball-infatuated billionaire owner who’s team has lost in the Finals the last three years in a row? You spend close to USD $10 million in the summer to make sure that losing streak doesn’t become four in a row.

How do you spend 10 mil in the Chinese Basketball Association, you ask? You start by bringing in the head coach of the Chinese National Team and noted CBA miracle worker, Bob Donewald Jr.

What could have been: Douby and K-Mart chat during practice pre-Douby wrist-break.

Donewald, who rose to the top of Team China after leading the Yao Ming-owned Shanghai Sharks from the depths of bankruptcy to a magical semi-finals run in 2009, will now be aiming to rise to the top of the CBA in Urumqi, where expectations reside somewhere between championship and championship. If you don’t believe that, think about the guy who he replaces, Jiang Xingquan; he only went 31-1 last regular season. Having spent all this money, there is no room for failure now.

If there’s anyone who’s up for the task though, its Donewald, who had to deal with the “win, or else” pressure that was placed upon him this summer in Wuhan, and media firestorm that came with it. The regular season is just a prelude to a Finals match-up against Guangdong, and the team’s result in that series will determine the success of the season.

Coaches need players to coach, though. And good thing for Donewald, Xinjiang added some good ones. Former NBA number one overall pick, Kenyon Martin, was signed in September to the richest contract in franchise history. He may not score 30 a night, but he won’t need to either — unleashing K-Mart inside an arena near you will be more than enough to deter opponents from even venturing into the lane. Simply China has never seen that type of defensive intensity. While J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler will be making headlines for their offensive outbursts, expect Martin to make his mark on the winning end of the court, the defensive side.

Xinjiang also added three domestic players who will play a large role in determining the result of this season. Former three-time MVP, Tang Zhengdong, who’s been wanting to get out Jiangsu since forever, finally got his wish. Though not what he once was when he was with Jiangsu back in the mid-2000s, he’ll be a load for opposing second units to handle when he subs in for current three-time reigning MVP, Mengke Bateer.

Chao Yonggang, a sharp shooting small forward who played with Foshan last year, was also signed for a large transfer fee. The team has big expectations for him: He’s been playing as a starter during pre-season games. China U-23 Olympic Team member, Meng Duo, who has been with DongGuan New Century since his teenage years, has been brought over on a two-year loan. A six-foot guard, Meng is an athletic and capable player who will be relied upon to provide scoring off the bench.

Keep in mind, though: This is a team that lost one game last regular season. There’s still a lot of veteran talent on this team. Bateer is the best Chinese big man in the league and will continue to be a rock inside for the Flying Tigers. Local product, 20 year-old Xirelijiang, spent the entire summer under Donewald with the National Team and looks primed to improve on last year’s promising campaign. The Mai Brothers combo will be short one after Maiwulan went to Foshan via the short-term transfer draft, but Maierdan will be back to smash heads/get called for moving screens under the basket.

There is bad news, though. Xinjiang’s title hopes took a hit when arguably the best import in league history, Quincy Douby, suffered a broken left wrist during a pre-season match last Sunday. Douby has already returned to the States and undergone surgery and it appears that the team is looking at other options to replace him.

Whether they choose to wait it out until he’s healthy or they go with a replacement player right away, Xinjiang will have a healthy and supremely talented import guard at the end of the year to play alongside K-Mart, Bateer and sons. So start getting ready now for Guangdong – Xinjiang, part III.

Jon Pastuszek

3. Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls

2010-11 record: 18-14 (6th place, lost to DongGuan in first round)
Head Coach: Ding Wei (2nd year)
Imports: J.R. Smith*, Josh Boone

Based in the sock capital of the world, Yiwu, the Golden Bulls enjoyed moderate success last season with Marcus Williams and Josh Boone as the focal points of the team. They got off to a slow 2-7 start with Mike James, but finished the year 17-6 once Marcus Williams came over as a replacement. Williams’ dominance ended in the playoffs though, and with it so did Chouzhou’s run as they suffered a disappointing first round playoff sweep at the hands of Jiangsu.

During the off-season, Chouzhou let go of Marcus Williams and made what might be the biggest acquisition in the CBA by signing former Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith. If Marcus Williams could average nearly 30 points a game for Chouzhou, the sky is the limit for Smith, who is one of the best pure scorers in the world. He possesses unbelievable range on his beautiful jump shot and has incredible athleticism that allows him to finish above the rim. With the Nuggets, he was relegated to the sixth man role due to the presence of Carmelo Anthony and his head-scratching shot selection. This won’t be the case with Chouzhou, where he will have the green light as the first, second, and third option.

Alongside Smith will be veteran big man Josh Boone, who is be entering his second season with the Cyclones. Boone is an athletic shot blocker who lacks a refined offensive game. He scores most of his points off of put-backs and broken plays. With J.R. Smith commanding so much defensive attention, Boone should enjoy a productive season on the offensive end. Ding Jinhui has been a National Team regular since Donewald took the reigns for his non-stop motor, and he’s one of the better Chinese forwards in the league.  The Golden Bulls’ success rests on the shoulders of Smith and Boone; if they can get their role players involved, the victories should add up.

Edward Bothfeld

4. Jiangsu Nangang Dragons

2010-11 record: 19-12 (4th place, lost to Xinjiang in semi-finals)
Head Coach: Xu Qiang (13th year)
Imports: Dan Gadzuric*, Luther Head*

The Jiangsu Nangang Dragons are coming off another successful season in which they finished with the fourth best regular season record and an appearance in the semi-finals. With three returning starters and two new imports, the Dragons have a good chance of replicating last year’s success.

Jiangsu's Yi Li took a big step forward this summer with his strong performance for the National Team at the FIBA Asia Championship.

Although he may still be fighting jetlag during the home opener, Luther Head is a capable combo guard who might excel in the CBA’s style of play. He is mostly known for his shooting abilities, but if Head can find some success driving to the hoop and keep defenders honest, he could be in for a big season. While Head makes plays on the perimeter, nine-year NBA veteran Dan Gadzuric will be doing dirty work in the paint. Known for his defensive presence and ability to run the floor, Gadzuric is limited on offense, where he has difficulty creating for himself.

Even with the loss of their force in the middle, three-time CBA MVP, Tang Zhengdong, who was sold to Xinjiang, Jiangsu still has the solid core of Chinese players that have made Jiangsu a perennial threat. The spindly Yi Li, who had a strong showing for the National Team as their sixth man at the Asia Championship this summer, will be asked to play a more prominent role now that Tang is gone. Fan favorite Hu Xuefeng will continue to be ageless at the point guard position and Meng Da, though also getting up there in age, should average double figures in scoring once again.

The culture of winning cannot be understated, and NiuBBall believes Jiangsu will be heading back to playoffs for a ninth straight year.

Edward Bothfeld and Jon Pastuszek

5. Zhejiang Guangsha Lions
2010-11 record: 18-14 (6th place, lost to DongGuan in first round)
Head Coach: Jim Cleamons (1st year)
Imports: Wilson Chandler*, Dwyane Jones 

Hangzhou is home to the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions, a usually mediocre team that annually flirts with being among the CBA’s elite. For the past three seasons, the team has revolved around big man P.J. Ramos, otherwise known as “The Puerto Rican King” (at least that’s what the large tattoo on his wrist says). Ramos enjoyed some success with Guangsha, but after finishing last year with an 18-14 record and a first round playoff exit, the club’s management decided to make drastic changes, and during the off-season they overhauled their roster and coaching staff in an attempt to permanently join the upper-echelon of teams.

In comes Coach Jim Cleamons, who is by far the most experienced and heralded NBA coach in the CBA. He has spent the majority of his coaching career as an assistant in the league under Phil Jackson. He has over a decade of experience teaching some of the most talented players of all time – Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal. In his basketball career, he has won a staggering ten championships – ten as a coach and one as a player. Guangsha is hoping Cleamons’ leadership and addiction to winning will transform the Lions into a championship contender.

However, a coach cannot win games by himself. Fortunately for Cleamons, Guangsha was also able to sign Wilson Chandler. Standing at a broad 6-8 (208 cm), Chandler has spent his NBA career with the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets. He possesses a unique skill-set with his ability to shoot from long range and use his size to score inside, thus making him difficult to defend. Look for Cleamons to make Chandler the focal point of the team, and for him to average around thirty points a game.

During training camp, the Lions suffered a significant setback. To complement Chandler, they had recruited fellow NBA star, Earl Clark. After arriving in Hangzhou, Clark received the wonderful news that his girlfriend was pregnant and understandably returned home. With Clark gone, Guangsha turned to former NBA player, Dwayne Jones. While he is not nearly as talented as Clark, he is tall (211 cm), has already spent a year playing professionally in China for Foshan, and is a capable post defender and rebounder.

Expectations are high, but with Chandler filling up the box score, Jones doing the dirty work, a talented supporting cast led by Taiwanese National Lin Chih-Chieh, and Jim Cleamons roaming the sidelines, the Lions should be in for a successful and winning season.

Edward Bothfeld

6. Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons

2010-11 record: 15-17 (9th place)
Head Coach: Yang Xuezeng (2nd year)
Imports: Marcus Williams, Charles Gaines

As Jim Yardley’s new book on Shanxi will tell us when it his stores in February next year, it’s probably pretty stupid to bet on a team that is owned by a raging lunatic. Still, there’s enough talent here — both American and Chinese — to convince us that this team can overcome that to make the playoffs.

Let’s start with the U.S. guys. After trying to sign Kobe Bryant to a one-month deal before the CBA squashed that idea, Shanxi made two sound decisions in the import market by signing China old-hands Marcus Williams and Charles Gaines. Williams made everyone look really stupid for passing him up at the beginning of the year when he came over to Zhejiang Chouzhou mid-season as a replacement for Mike James. His one man band show that culminated with four straight triple-doubles to end the regular season, parading the Golden Bulls to a playoff birth, and an appearance on the NiuBBall.com All-CBA First Team. Boasting the best all-around game in China, there’s no reason for us to believe he shouldn’t be there again this year.

Gaines is no slouch either. Two years ago for Xinjiang, he averaged over 30 points a game, and last year he led the league with 33.7 per contest on top of 13.5 rebounds. Yet, he remains most famous for slapping the eff out of Du Feng in the 2010 CBA Finals. And probably rightfully so. But Gaines, who was also a NiuBBall.com First Teamer last year, in combination with Williams will probably be famous this season because he’ll be part of one of the most potent import duos in the league this year.

On the Chinese side, swingman Duan Jiangpeng is coming off a strong summer that saw him suit up for the China Under-23 Olympic Team before earning a brief call-up to the Senior National Team. His Brave Dragon teammate, Zhang Xuewen, also averaged double-figures for the Brave Dragons last year and is another young piece expected to help the playoff cause.

If there is one weakness with this team — besides their bumbling mad owner — it’s that this team lacks a point-guard. Williams, who excels when the ball is in his hands, may be enough to compensate for that though. This is a team with a ton of talent and they should make the playoffs, despite an owner that made the late George Steinbrenner seem like Abe Polin.

Jon Pastuszek

7. Liaoning Jiebao Innovators

2010-11 record: 14-18 (10th place)
Head coach: Guo Shiqiang (6th year)
Imports: Rodney Carney, Josh Powell

The normally relevant Liaoning PanPan Dinosaurs were anything but last season, finishing with an unimpressive 14-18 record. Their struggles could be mainly attributed to the poor play from any of the four imports they put on the court during the year, Donta Smith, Anthony Myles, Myles McKay and Chris Richard.

This season, however, could be different. In fact, it’s already different — at least in name. Provincially-owned Liaoning dropped their longtime shareholder sponsor, PanPan Doors, turned around and bought the club themselves. Once dubbed the PanPan Dinosaurs, Liaoning is now the Jiebao (a car company)… Innovators? The name of the team in Chinese is 前瞻, which according to nciku.com means “to look ahead; to forecast.” I don’t think the Liaoning Weathermen sounds very good, so I went with “innovators.” That is very likely 100% wrong. If you know their name in English — if they have one — holler at us in the comments.

It also could be different, because Liaoning looks pretty darn good on paper. Overpowering every other storyline is the return of guard Zhang Qingpeng, who is back after a one-year loan to Xinjiang. A common sight on Team China a few years ago, Zhang has fallen out of favor with Donewald’s National Team. But he’s on the short list of top Chinese guards in the league, and his accuracy from the outside will be a big boost for the team this year.

Former L.A. Laker and two-time NBA champion, Josh Powell, and NBA journeyman Rodney Carney have joined the Hunters. Together, they are hoping to kick start a Liaoning revival (they were finalists in 2008). With poor ball-handling skills, Carney is reliant on his leaping ability and athleticism on the offensive end. The game needs to be played at a frenetic pace for him to be effective. While Powell has size – 6’9 and 240 lbs — he isn’t a banger and gets most of his buckets on midrange jumpers.

Up front, Liaoning can play with anyone. 6-9 power forward Li Xiaoxu played at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey. 7-1 Han Dejun, participated in all-you-can-eat pork dumplings competition in Liaoning last year. OK that’s a joke, but the 300+ pound puffer can play a little bit, even if his body weight only allows him to play in short bursts.

If the Innovators can get consistent play from youngster Guo Ailun, one of China’s best prospects at the point-guard position, they’re headed back to the post-season.

Edward Bothfeld and Jon Pastuszek

8. Beijing Shougang Ducks

2010-11 record: 16-16 (8th place)
Head Coach: Min Lulei (14th year)
Imports: Stephon Marbury, Randolph Morris

Like NiuBBall, Starbury is way down with Beijing and Niu Bi.

Stephon Marbury says he’s been happy in China since signing with Shanxi in 2010. That’s impressive given who he’s played for and the cities he’s called home the last two seasons, Taiyuan, Shanxi and Foshan, Guangdong.

Now in Beijing for his third season, Marbury, who had his own feature in China Daily two days ago, is even happier.

Ducks fans should be happier, too. China likes themeslves some Marbury, but it seems that Beijing, who has taken to the Coney Islander with even more reverence, likes him the most. And that was before he officially signed for them in the off-season.

Partered up with Randolph Morris, who put up huge numbers for the Ducks last year, fans are going to like what they see at Shougang Arena this season. Neither have ever played in China with a better import, and seeing how both of them were pretty good on their own last year, logic would suggest that they’ll be pretty good together.

The one concern for Beijing this year is the loss of their Asian import, Zaid Abbas. The tireless forward ran circles around opponents last year rebounding, defending and picking up garbage points. Because there are no rules that restrict Asian import players’ playing time, Abbas is one of the most valuable players in the league and Beijing will definitely miss him.

But, is the loss of Abbas really going to affect the Ducks that much? After all, Beijing snuck into the eight spot last season, despite playing a good portion of the year with only one American. (Steve Francis, that was totally on you, man.) Pint-sized Taiwanese point-guard, Lee Hsueh-lin, likes to push the pace and find open teammates, and him and Marbury will be sharing the same backcourt most of the time. Forward Chen Lei is a good all-around player, and “The Journalist,” Ji Zhe, is a big man who can stretch defenses out with his outside shooting.

I think Abbas’ departure is a big blow, but with two Americans playing alongside what basically amounts to the same roster as last season, the Ducks will be in the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Jon Pastuszek

9. Jilin GBT Northeast Tigers

2010-11 record: 12-20 (13th place)
Head coach: Wang Han
Imports: Cartier Martin*, Jameel Watkins, Osama Dahglas (Asian import)

Unlike our good friend Guan Weijia over at Sheridan Hoops, I’m not hopping on the Jilin post-season express right now. But, get back to me in a few weeks and see what I say then, because Jilin definitely has a ton of potential.

Why? The Northeast Tigers are simply loaded in the backcourt with Dahglas, Martin and Yu Shulong, who has spent considerable time with the National Team over the last two summers. Dahglas, who starts at point for the Jordanian National Team, played well for Shanxi last year. With Daghlas, you know what you’re getting — a good playmaker at the point-guard position who is looking to get in the lane and dish to teammates. But he’s not much of a scorer and that’s where Martin will come in. He didn’t get too much run for them, but some people liked him when he was with the Wizards and he should have a big year scoring the ball in this league.

Up front, Jameel Watkins comes back for his second season with Jilin and his fourth overall in the CBA. The 34 year-old isn’t going to put the ball in the hoop too much, but he protects the paint well and rebounds the ball. With Martin doing most of the scoring, they won’t need him to do much else. Zhong Cheng played with the Chinese U-23 Team this summer.

Since the Asian import rule was implemented in 2009, one team has gone from bottom four to the playoffs each season. Of all the teams who qualify for an extra foreigner, Jilin has the best chance to be the third.

Jon Pastuszek

10. Bayi Fubang Rockets

2010-11 record: 17-15 (7th place)
Head Coach: Adijiang (10th year)
Imports: None

You probably know them as the guys who went WWF on the Georgetown Hoyas last August in Beijing. But, in China, they’re mainly known as the team that always wins. If the NiuBBall prophecy is indeed true, however, and the Bayi Rockets do miss the playoffs this year, it will end a 50+ year reign of dominance over Chinese basketball.

Like many people, including a growing number of Chinese, we won’t be needing any tissues when it happens.

Protectors of the old guard, Bayi is primed to miss the playoffs for the first time since the CBA was founded in 1996. Like always, the team that represents the People’s Liberation Army is devoid of any foreigners and will go into battle with a roster comprised entirely of Chinese players. Most famous, of course, is Wang Zhizhi, who will creak into his 15th professional basketball season, his 12th in CBA. The spindly left-hander is running on his last legs — the 2012 London Olympics will be his last international competition for China — and though he’s still capable of throwing up 20-30 points in a game, his best days are way behind him.

That’s not a good thing for the Rockets, who have rode Wang to eight championships since he made his debut in 1995-96. While all solid in their own right, Mo Ke, Zhang Bo and Wang Lei aren’t centerpieces, which means once again the burden will be placed on an aging center who’s played year-round for 15 straight years.

With their superior height advantages all over the court, Bayi will present match-up problems against smaller teams. And like every year, they’ll still get great whistles at home, even when they’re playing bad. Bayi could sneak into the playoffs — especially if the CBA decides that the league still needs soldiers playing under the bright lights — but, I think this is the end of the road for the Rockets as we know them.

Jon Pastuszek

11. DongGuan New Century Leopards
2010-11 record: 25-7 (3rd place)
Head coach: Brian Goorjian (2nd year)
Imports: Josh Akognon, Shavlik Randolph*

The CBA is rarely surprising, which is why DongGuan was such a refreshing team to watch last season. Put under the control of longtime Australian National Team head coach, Brian Goorjian, DongGuan exceeded all pre-season expectations to go 25-7 in the regular season. Goorjian arrived in the spring right after the 2009-10 season and went straight to work on improving the team’s defense. Centering both the offense and defense around Jackson Vroman, whose mobility, passing and versatility made him a organizer and facilitator on both ends, and leaning on Nigerian-American, Josh Akognon, to light the scoreboard from three point-line, the Leopards were able to overcome a young and inexperienced roster to go all the way to the semi-finals, where they lost to eventual champion, Guangdong.

Thing is though, maybe they could have done better. Jackson went down with a fractured hand just before the playoffs and with it, so did DongGuan’s fairy tale season. Was it always unlikely that they were going to beat their DongGuan neighbors? Yes, but it would have been a much more competitive series.

This year, Goorjian is back, but Jackson has left for the Korean Basketball League. Akognon, who took more threes than anyone last year, is also back for another season. He’ll be joined by Shavlik Randolph, has been in-and-out of the NBA the last five years since leaving early from Duke in 2005.

With Goorjian, one of the best coaches in Asia, DongGuan will always be well prepared and will thus win games against teams with more talent. Last year, veterans Zhang Kai and Qiu Biao played arguably the best basketball of their career under him. But, what was already a young team got even younger with the departure of Meng Duo, who went to Xinjiang. Goorjian himself has said that this season is more about the development of DongGuan’s set of promising youngsters Li Muhao, Gu Quan and Sun Tonglin, and not so much about wins.

They’ll take a step backward with the loss of Vroman. But, with Goorjian still at the helm, DongGuan will never be an easy game for opponents and they may even sneak into the playoffs, despite their step back in talent from last year.

Jon Pastuszek

12. Fujian SBS Sturgeons
2010-11 record: 8-24 (16th place)
Head Coach: Joseph Stiebing (1st year)
Imports: Will McDonald, Anthony Roberson*, Zaid Abbas (Asian import)

Zaid Abbas has turned around both Shanghai and Beijing in the two years he's played in the CBA.

The Sturgeons will be happy with any improvements after a pathetic 8-24 record during the 2011 season. As a cellar dweller (bottom four teams), they were eligible to find a third Asian foreign import. Jordan National Zaid Abbas, who is no stranger to turning teams around, will serve as their third import alongside Anthony Roberson and Will McDonald. This will be Abbas’ third stint as the third import for struggling teams, but his previous two teams, Shanghai and Beijing, both improved dramatically with his addition. He doesn’t have a single skill that stands out, but his scrappy play and hustle are infectious.

If Fujian has any hope for a winning season, Abbas will need some help from Anthony Roberson and Will McDonald, who are probably among the least known imports in the CBA. Roberson is a streaky, shoot-first point guard who has occasional lapses on the defensive end. The 32 year-old McDonald has spent the majority of his career playing in Europe and will struggle against the likes of Josh Boone, Randolph Morris, and Kenyon Martin.

Edward Bothfeld 

13. Shandong Kingston Golden Lions
2010-11 record: 14-18 (11th place)
Head Coach: Gong Xiaobin (8th year)
Imports: Alan Anderson*, Othello Hunter*

Last year, Shandong replaced their longtime head coach, Gong Xiaobin, with Bob Weiss, who had coached Shanxi the year before and the Seattle Supersonics before that. Keeping it going with American CBA veterans, Shandong then went with two imports with China experience, Myron Allen and Rodney White.

The end result was not what they were hoping for: 14-18, 11th place.

This season, Shandong is going back with Gong on the bench, but they’re treading in uncharted import territory. Michigan State product, guard Alan Anderson, will mark the beginning of his Chinese career this year, as will power forward, Othello Hunter. Anderson has an impressive resume that includes stints the Charlotte Bobcats, FC Barcelona and Macabbi Tel Aviv. Hunter spent two years with the Atlanta Hawks from 2008-10. Last year he played for Dinamo Basket Sassari in Italy.

The rest we know: Sun Jie is thwacking threes and losing his hair, Sui Ran is flopping all over the place and pissing people off in between the occasional nice drive to the rack, and Ding Yanyuhang is a promising player with a really long name.

Behind Anderson, who I think will do well here, Shandong could be a dangerous match-up against the CBA’s middling teams. But, a lack of dependable Chinese to flank him will once again hold the Golden Lions back from a playoff spot.

Jon Pastuszek

14. Qingdao Double Star Eagles
2010-11 record: 10-22 (15th place)
Head Coach: Zhang Zhengxiu (2nd year)
Imports: Lester Hudson, Peter John Ramos, Sakakini Sani* (Asian import)

Qingdao recovered from their silly initial decision to sign Jarron Collins by first cutting him, and then signing combo guard Lester Hudson. Ike Diogu was on the radar at one point, but the team ultimately settled on 7-3 monster Peter John Ramos, who has spent the last three years with Zhejiang Guangsha.

If the Eagles can get a good big who can score to place alongisde Hudson, then I kind of like this team. Especially when the team’s Asian import, Jordanian forward Sakakini Sani, who played well in China’s second-tier professional league, the National Basketball League, this summer. Though not incredibly skilled, the 6-8 Sani has a big frame which he frequently uses to move bodies under the basket. He’s not on the level of Abbas, but he should have a solid year here playing as many minutes as his coach wants him to.

One cool thing about this team is that their head coach is Korean and the only non-American foreign coach in the league.

Part of me wants to put this team up further because of their nice trio of foreigners, but this squad’s Chinese roster is just too poor. Swingman Li Gen, who averaged a touch over 10 points a game last  year, is the only one I’d tell my friends about. Wang Gang moves to the coast from Shandong, and he’ll step into the point-guard slot. I guess I’ll have to go against impulse and instead settle with merely labeling the Eagles as a potential sleeper.

15. Shanghai Dongfang Sharks
2010-11 record: 12-20 (12th place)
Head Coach: Daniel Panaggio (1st year)
Imports: Mike Harris, Ryan Forehan-Kelly

After a failed attempt to sign with Shanghai last year, Taiwanese national Tseng Wen-ting is finally all set to go in China.

It is now ten years since the Sharks last finished as CBA champions and it remains to be seen if the notoriously fickle Shanghanese will pay much attention to the Sharks now that the days of Yao Ming averaging thirty-points a game seem so far away. These days, the shadow of Yao quite literally hovers over the Sharks team as the now-retired, newly-repatriated Chinese icon watches over the team he famously rescued from bankruptcy in 2009.

The 2011 side is very much one in transition as the Sharks adjust to life without the influential John Lucas III and the popular coach, Bob Donewald. The new man at the helm, former D-League coach, Daniel Panaggio, has arrived with intentions of utilizing the triangle offense, something that has taken a bit of getting used to. Panaggio’s hiring also coincides with the arrivals of Ryan Forehan-Kelly, who previously played for the Jiangsu Dragons in 2007-08, and Taiwanese forward, Tseng Wen-ting, both of whom featured prominently in the Sharks’ final pre-season games in Zhejiang province. Tseng’s addition will be particularly welcome — he was supposed to come over last year, but the deal fell apart after the transfer deadline passed.

Predicting how the Sharks’ will do this season very much depends on how full or empty your glass generally tends to be. Cynics will point to the departure of Donewald and lack of big name signings as symptomatic of the club’s lack of ambition. Those of a more positive persuasion can get excited about a new coach bringing fresh ideas to a side that already boasts experienced veterans like Liu Wei and Mike Harris as well as up-and-coming Chinese internationals, “Max” Zhang Zhaoxu, Peng Fei and Zhou Zhang. A mid table finish is the most likely outcome, anything higher would be a decidedly unexpected bonus.

Andrew Crawford 

16. Guangdong Foshan Dralions
2010-11 record: 11-21 (14th place)
Head coach: Jay Humphries (2nd year)
Imports: Marcus Douthit*, Gerald Green*, Michael Maadanly (Asian import)

Gerald Green will be bummed to know that the Chinese don’t typically do cupcakes.

–Jon Pastuszek

17. Tianjin Ronggang Gold Lions
2010-11 record: 5-27 (17th place)
Head Coach: Zhang Jian (11th year)
Imports: David Harrison, Donnell Harvey, Rony Fahed (Asian import)

After finishing at the bottom of the league last year, Tianjin opted not to retain American head coach, Bob MacKinnon Jr., instead going with the guy who coached them in 2009-10, Zhang Jian. They also decided against bringing back NiuBBall.com CBA Defensive Player of the Year, American guard Vernon Hamilton, despite his string of strong performances to end the year.

Instead they went with a familiar strategy — going with two big men as their Americans. Last year it was Lee Benson and Herve Lamizana, this year its David Harrison and Donnell Harvey. They used their Asian import spot on Lebanese point guard, Rony Fahed. If they’re lucky, they may get 40 points a night out of the three. Harrison is not even one year removed from a broken fibula and hasn’t looked good in pre-season games. Harvey, who enjoyed two great seasons for Jiangsu in 2008-09 and 2009-10, will do what he does best, attacking the offensive glass, but isn’t someone who they’ll be able to throw the ball into on the low block.

With their poor choices in the foreign market and their deplorable Chinese roster, look for Tianjin to once again finish at the bottom of the league.

–Jon Pastuszek

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CBA Finals Preview

April 15, 2011

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Guangdong will be trying their best to prevent Xinjiang’s Quincy Douby from getting into the teeth of their defense. (Photo from Sina)

You were expecting something else?  In the league of no parity, regular season champ, Xinjiang, and three-time defending league champs, Guangdong, waltzed through their respective quarter-final and semi-final matchups to come to their inevitable clash for league supremacy.  Game One of the best-0f-seven series starts tonight in Guangdong at 7:30 Beijing time.  Games Two and Three will be played in Xinjiang, Games Four and (if necessary) Game Five will be back in Guangdong.  Game Six and Game Seven will go back to Xinjiang.

At the buzzer, NiuBBall previews what we think could be the most competitive series in league history.

#1 Xinjiang (31-1) vs. #2 Guangdong (25-7)

The Road:
Xinjiang over Beijing, 3-0 (Quarter-Finals)
Xinjiang over Jiangsu, 3-0 (Semi-Finals)

Guangdong over Bayi, 3-0 (Quarter-Finals)
Guangdong over Bayi, 3-0 (Semi-Finals)

Regular Season Results:
Xinjiang 97 @ Guangdong 88, Round 5
Guangdong 70 @ Xinjiang 86, Round 23

Our advice before advancing any more in your thought process about this series: take these two teams’ regular season clashes in your hand, crumple them up into a ball, and toss them into a garbage can.  They don’t matter.  And it’s not because of the old “regular season doesn’t matter” adage — it’s because in Round 5, Guangdong was still rolling with Fred Jones, and by the time Round 23 rolled around, it was basically decided that Xinjiang was going to come away with the top overall seed for the playoffs.  So we’re not taking too much stock in Xinjiang’s two wins against their southern rivals, even if sweeping Guangdong, which doesn’t happen often, if ever, is an admittedly impressive accomplishment.

No, instead we’re judging the two team’s relative health, playoff performances, and other intangibles that may help us come to a conclusion about this very evenly matched series.

After limping/resting through the regular season, Guangdong finally has its deep roster of National Teamers fully healthy and ready to go, which should cause some concern for the challengers.  Guangdong’s strength in numbers gives them a number of ways to attack opponents, and having a fully healthy roster will make the champs dangerous. Most key is the return of Zhu Fangyu to full fitness, whose size and spot-shooting accuracy on the perimeter has been an integral part of the post-Yi Jianlian Guangdong dynasty.  When put alongside Lester Hudson and Wang Shipeng, Guangdong boasts the most balanced perimeter attack in the CBA, which unlike a lot of other teams, allows them to effectively and efficiently attack defensive mismatches.  If Xinjiang’s thin stable of guards, Guo Xucheng, Zhang Qingpeng and Quincy Douby, get into foul trouble and/or get hurt, Guangdong could do some serious damage.  And if Hudson can build off his season-high 41 point performance in Game Three against DongGuan, Xinjiang could have their hands full keeping track of everybody.

That’s merely hypothetical, however.  Unlike Guangdong, Xinjiang will enter Game One with the confidence of knowing Quincy Douby will certainly be a match-up nightmare for whoever is given the unenviable task of guarding him.  No matter who he’s gone up against, the long-armed Douby has tore up every player in his path this season en route to establishing himself as the best import in the league.  Sag off of him, he buries the three; force him to drive and he pulls up for jumpers and floaters.  Close down on him in the lane, and Douby kicks out to shooters Zhang, Guo and even CBA MVP, the mammoth Mengke Bateer.  Hudson has the strength to possibly give Douby problems, but lacks the foot speed, height and wingspan to negate his unique build and style.  We expect “Q” to stay par for the course, and score 30 points or more every game this series.

Up front, Guangdong is also quite deep.  Marcus Haislip had a very effective series against DongGuan.  Su Wei, Du Feng, Zhou Peng, Dong Hanlin and Wang Zheng, though not dependable to score in bunches, can all play big minutes if needed.  Peng, a long and versatile forward who can play both the three and four, may even be called upon to guard Douby in order to limit the long armed bomber from going off from distance.

As always, the uber-physical Xinjiang combination of Bateer, James Singleton and the Mai brothers will be knocking the heck out of anything/everything that moves in the paint.  Worth watching is the Singleton vs. Haislip matchup. Though taller, Haislip, who prefers to face up defenders from outside the paint, is slight of frame and struggles against stronger defenders.  Singleton, who is hands down the best defensive player in China, stands a pretty good shot at limiting his dribble-drives and rebounding.

But, the Flying Tigers, who alongside Douby, rely on pulverising their opponents into submission under the glass, have never played against a team like Guangdong who can just send waves of big bodies at them.  If the referees call games extra tight and Xinjiang’s bigs go to the bench, Guangdong will have a series advantage on the boards.  Since we think its a given that both backcourts are going to score, this series very well may be decided under the basket.

Key Matchup: Lester Hudson vs. Quincy Douby

In the pre-game buildup to Game One, Hudson reminded a group of gaga for Douby reporters that like his opponent, he also has played in the NBA before.  Sounds to us like Hudson is coming into this match-up with something to prove. Stopping Douby is going to be an impossible task: Xinjiang’s entire offense is run almost completely through Douby, who gets on-ball screen after on-ball screen from his massive teammates before putting the ball in the hoop or kicking out to an open teammate.  But, on the other end?  Hudson, though not tremendously quick, has a quick first step, and a big time three-point shot.  As we saw against DongGuan in Game Three, Hudson, who surprisingly hasn’t put up huge scoring numbers since coming over mid-season, has the ability to go off.  By design, Douby focuses most of his energy on the offensive end, which sometimes comes at the expense of guarding people.  Though a capable defensive player on this level with his go-go gadget arms, if Hudson can find ways to score — such as going into the post and using his bigger frame to muscle Douby around, like Beijing did with some success in the quarter-finals — then it’ll put a ton of pressure on Douby to play both ways.  We’d expect Xinjiang is aware of this, and as a result Hudson will likely see a heavy dose of Xu and Zhang in order to allow their star player to rest on defense.

At the end of the day, however, we think Douby and Singleton are the superior import tandem to Haislip and Hudson. Throw in a huge, physical front line, the addition of Zhang, who was sitting at home watching on TV at this time last year, and a collective hunger to bring northwest China its first ever CBA title, and we’re officially predicting the Flying Tigers will be flying highest by the end of the month.

Prediction: Xinjiang in 6

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A.I. off to Turkey; Charles Gaines to Qingdao, Alston to follow?

October 12, 2010

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Much to my disappointment, the Allen Iverson to China rickshaw appears to have lost its wheels: According to Yahoo! Sports, Allen Iverson is in serious talks with Turkish outfit, Besiktas, and is hoping to get a deal done by the end of the week. The proposed one-year deal is estimated to be worth around $1.5 million, but with an interesting twist: There’s a limit as to how much the team can fine A.I.

From the article:

One stumbling block to an agreement over the weekend was Iverson’s reluctance to let Besiktas fine him beyond 1 percent of his $1.5 million base salary, a European source told Yahoo! Sports.

Now we officially know that with Iverson, it’s not just about the money; it’s about making the most money possible from playing basketball and finding an owner that can live with the fact that A.I. doesn’t want to do anything outside of playing games. Even in Europe, Iverson doesn’t wanna be talkin’ practice, I guess. To tell a team this much before he’s even signed his contract is a brutally honest self-assessment from a guy who has always been brutally honest about himself, yet somehow I doubt he’ll be getting props for keeping it real this time.

Iverson’s insistence on the clause sheds some more light on perhaps why China didn’t go down. Given that Foshan had an offer on the table worth a reported $4 million — $2.5 million more than Bestikas – it’s certainly possible that Iverson’s demands for some type of restriction on how much a team could take from him in case he went AWOL caused the two sides to walk away from each other. It’s quite understandable for both sides, actually. For Iverson, having  99% of $1.5 million guaranteed is a safer bet than having $4 million non-guaranteed. And for Foshan, investing that type of money on somebody who is unable to guarantee his availability for practices/games/being in Foshan/being in China would be too dangerous for a new team preparing to play in its inaugural season.

Disappointed that I won’t get to see Iverson play in China, but even more disappointed that one of my favorite players of all-time is choosing to end his career in Europe by protecting a contract not against his team, but against his his own will to play basketball. A sad, sad way for the gutsiest basketball player ever to go out.

Other news from the CBA: Charles Gaines, the CBA’s second leading scorer last year for Xinjiang, is signing up with Qingdao Double Star.  It’s a considerable addition for the city of beer: Gaines averaged 30 and 11 last year, leading Xinjiang all the way to the CBA finals.  You might know him as the guy who slapped Du Feng’s lights out in Game 2 of those very finals:

In case you’re wondering, neither were suspended by the league.  Gaines’  open hand strike was ruled to be in self defense, since Du instigated everything with a forehead to forehead knock, while Du’s Gaines-inflicted TKO was judged to be nothing more than an exaggerated flop.  I’m sure opposing scouting reports on Gaines this year are sure to include a line or two about headbutting.

Gaines will join up with Jordan national team captain, Zaid Al-Khas, who signed with the team over a week ago.

And, finally, your Rafer Alston China rumor of the week.

If you’ve been staying up with the blog, you’ve done known that Skip is coming to China to train with the Zhejiang Guangshua Lions, one of the many teams vying to acquire the 11-year NBA point-guard.  According to the Qingdao Evening Newspaper, he’s all set for Chinese lay-up lines in southern China on the 18th.

Alston in Zhejiang would presumably give them the inside track, but he that may not be the case after all.  The same article is reporting that Alston, despite agreeing to come to Zhejiang, personally reached out to Qingdao Double Star two weeks ago and the two sides have mutual interest in each other. If a deal is reached, Skip will sign an agreement with Double Star similar to Stephon Marbury’s with Shanxi Zhongyu that would include opportunities on the business side of the basketball in addition to an annual salary.

At this point, after reading all of the stuff that’s been published about Skip to China and the fact that he’s physically coming to the mainland in a few days, I’d be shocked if he’s not playing in the CBA later this year.  For all of you who are undoubtedly wondering how to say “Skip to my Lou” in Chinese, you should know that they don’t call him by that here. In China, he’s simply known as Jie Qiu Wang, or ”Street Ball King.”

More as it develops.

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Iverson to China still on the table

September 24, 2010

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Despite ending negotiations with Foshan, Iverson is reportedly still contemplating a move to the CBA.

According to Nanjing Daily, three-time defending CBA champion Guangdong Southern Tigers, as well as Shanxi Zhongyu are both trying to sign the 11-time All-Star. (Here’s the English link.)

Tencent is reporting that talks between Guangdong and Iverson’s agent were positive and the two sides will continue to negotiate a deal.

We’re about to see just how serious Iverson is about China. Guangdong, who lost one game in the playoffs last year after going 30-2 in the regular season, is undoubtedly the league’s best team with four players, Zhu Fangyu, Wang Shipeng, Su Wei and Du Feng, all having experience with the Chinese National Team.  With the subtraction of Smush Parker, who left to sign a contract with Russian outift Spartak St. Petersberg, Guangdong would not only get a tremendous boost in worldwide exposure, but they’d also be filling a need for next season as well.

Shanxi Zhongyu, with Stephon Marbury on board for three more years (contractually, at least), could also be an intriguing option. They’ve proved that they can accommodate to an NBA All-Star player, especially in regard to helping in individual commercial interests. Plus, the chance to link up with Marbury, who has more than half of a year of experience with the basketball and business side of China, may also be seen as a potential selling point to Iverson.

There are a couple of potential issues with Shanxi, however.  With foreigners only allowed to play a combined six quarters each game, it’s not a stretch to imagine that Iverson would be opposed to competing with Marbury for minutes.  Furthermore, given that Marbury has made it his focus to sell his Starbury brand in China, would Iverson, who would most certainly look to get into the market as well, be willing to share the spotlight with a direct competitor?

More as it comes.

(H/T hoopCHINA)

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