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Tag Archives: Jiang Xingquan

Urumqi reunion: James Singleton to return to Xinjiang (and other updates on CBA imports)

September 20, 2012

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After spending last season in Guangdong, James Singleton is thumbs-upping a return back to Xinjiang.

Some say time is the best healer. Apparently, “some” include the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers and James Singleton, who after splitting up on bad terms a year ago are now ready to get back together.

On Tuesday, Xinjiang general manager, He Changjiang, confirmed what most people around Chinese basketball had known since the beginning of September: That Singleton and Xinjiang have come to an agreement over a contract for this upcoming season. The deal is believed to be two years, though He publicly denied that there is a set arrangement for 2013-14.

Singleton spent his first season in China with Xinjiang in 2010-11 and along with Quincy Douby, brought the franchise to within two games of their first ever CBA title before losing to the Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers in the Finals.

But instead of bringing the 2010-11 First-Teamer back for another crack last season, Xinjiang instead opted to let the bruising and versatile 6-7 forward walk out the door, choosing a locked out Kenyon Martin to act as his replacement.

The decision was made mostly in part to a deteriorated relationship between Singleton and Chinese head coach, Jiang Xingquan. Jiang, who is known in China as the strictest and most uncompromising coaches in professional basketball, and his American forward never really saw eye-to-eye on much, and the dynamic between the two ultimately came to a breaking point late in the year. After the season, Singleton went on to call Jiang “military” on a radio interview.

With Jiang back in the fold last season, first as a consultant then later as head coach, both sides felt it was time to move on. Singleton stayed in China, joining Guangdong Hongyuan, the team that beat Xinjiang the year before. Paired up with Aaron Brooks, Singleton went back to the Finals, only this time losing to Beijing Shougang in five games.

Now, Singleton will be back in Urumqi wearing Flying Tigers colors once again. So why the change in heart?

With the well known history between Jiang and Singleton, its likely safe to assume that the 72 year-old former China National Team head coach is not going to be involved with the team this year. If that is indeed the case, Xinjiang will have quite a new look in 2012-13 — both on the bench and in the front office. Longtime team president, Hou Wei, resigned earlier in the off-season shortly after Xinjiang announced the hiring of new head coach, Cui Wanjun.

As in 2010, when he first arrived in China, Singleton rejected the veteran’s minimum from the Washington Wizards this summer, opting instead to come back to China where the money is better and the playing time more plentiful. Singleton returned to Washington after the Chinese season was over in April, appearing in 12 games and averaging 8.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 21.8 minutes per game.

Although it’ll be a fresh start for Singleton this year, the championship expectations will still be the same. Singleton will join up with Von Wafer, who signed with the Flying Tigers earlier in the summer after Douby left the team to sign with the Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls. With yet another expensive duo of foreigners and a good Chinese roster that will be further bolstered by the re-addition of longtime Liaoning shooting guard, Zhang Qingpeng, who spent 2010-11 with Xinjiang, winning the club’s first title will be the only thing on anybody’s mind in northwest China this year.

Last year with Guangdong, Singleton averaged 16.9 points and 11.8 rebounds.

And in other news on CBA imports…

Lester Hudson goes back to southern China, this time with DongGuan

The two-year CBA vet, who spent last year with the Qingdao Double Star Eagles and the year before that with Guangdong Hongyuan, was officially announced as the DongGuan New Century Leopards’ second import on Tuesday. Hudson will find his surroundings very familiar: Not only will he be playing in the same city from two years ago, he’ll also be playing with the same foreign teammate, Marcus Haislip, who combined with Hudson in 2010-11 to win a championship with Guangdong Hongyuan.

The signing of Hudson caps off a busy off-season for the Leopards, who in addition to bringing in two new imports, have also brought in Jilin point guard, Yu Shulong, and Taiwanese guard/forward, James Wang.

Shanghai signs Elijah Millsap; second import to join team in Australia?

Per Shanghai’s official website, the Sharks will be starting the season off with the 6-6 guard/forward on the wing. Millsap, who is the younger brother of Utah Jazz power forward, Paul Millsap, spent the last two seasons in the NBA D-League with the Tulsa 66ers and the Los Angeles D-Fenders. He attended the University of Alabama-Birmingham in 2009-10, playing there for one season after transferring from Louisiana-Lafayette in 2008.

As for their other foreign player, Titan Sports Weekly is reporting that the yet-to-be-named player will join Shanghai during their exhibition tour in Australia. Chinese media is reporting that at present, Mike Harris, who has spent the last two years with the club, is the odds-on-favorite to team up with Millsap.

Foshan brings back Michael Madanly as Asian import, inks Jerome Randle and Eric Dawson to round out foreign lineup

The Dralions, who once again spent last season in the CBA cellar floor, have opted to bring back Asian import, Michael Madanly. The Syrian swingman, who was forced to play point with injuries and a general lack of Chinese talent at the position, averaged 22 points. 6.6 rebounds and 6.5 assists in 37 minutes per game in his first season in China.

To attempt and tackle that exact problem, Foshan is bringing in former Cal-Berkeley standout and 2010 Pac-10 Player of the Year, Jerome Randle. The speedy 5-10 point guard played in Ukraine and the D-League last season after spending 2010-11 in Turkey with Allaga Petkim and Turk Telecom.

To round out their trio of foreigners, Foshan is also bringing in power forward Eric Dawson. A 6-9 power forward, Dawson spent either part or all of the last five seasons in the D-League with the Austin Toros, with trips to the Dominican Republic, Japan and Korea mixed in. Last season, Dawson was signed to consecutive 10-day contracts by the San Antonio Spurs, appearing in four games and averaging 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 9.8 minutes. He also won D-League Impact Player of the Year, averaging 17.2 points and 10.8 rebounds on 56% shooting.

Zhejiang Chouzhou chooses Denzel Bowles to play alongside Quincy Douby

Bowles, who went undrafted out of James Madison University in 2011, spent last season in the Philippines with B-MEG. In 24 games, Bowles went for averages of 38.1 minutes, 26.3 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. In the deciding Game 7 of the PBA Finals, the 6-10 forward/center went off for 39 points and 21 boards, including 11 of his team’s 14 points in overtime, to lead B-MEG to a championship. In all, Bowles won Best Import Award and finished as the league’s top scorer and rebounder.

With Douby returning from a wrist injury that kept him out the entire season last year, and the addition of Gong Songlin, the Golden Bulls could very well indeed be a top four team if Bowles can carry his impressive PBA performance into the CBA.

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CBA off-season carousel in full swing

March 14, 2012


As the the playoffs rage on come to a grinding halt (thanks, Shanxi), and as we’re back on the blogging trail, now seems as good a time as ever to update everyone on the coaching and front office changes that are going on around the league.

Jim Cleamons not coming back to Guangsha; Wang Fei set to return?

Jim Cleamons, like a lot of foreign coaches over the years who were originally promised long-term stays with their Chinese squads, won’t be back for a second season in Guangsha. Initially brought in to install a program that would promote long-term development, Cleamons was a big reason why Guangsha was able to land Wilson Chandler during the NBA lockout. With his Bulls/Lakers triangle-offense import working well along with his NBA import, the Lions got off to a great 13-4 start that had some people thinking that they were a legit threat to Guangdong.

But once the lockout ended and it became apparent that he had a huge contract waiting for him in the States, Chandler turned on the cruise control, Cleamons turned off the triangle, and Guangsha sputtered to a 2-9 record over their next 11. They eventually made the playoffs, but in order to get back before the March 1st offer-sheet deadline, Chandler left back to the U.S. and Cleamons was left with Rodney White to face Beijing. As most (but not all) would guess, Guangsha was swept out of the playoffs.

With Cleamons out, the team is reportedly considering bringing back former China National Team head coach, Wang Fei, who was in Guangsha from 2007-11. Nothing official has been announced at this time, however.

Liaoning get rejected by Jiang Xingquan, hire Wu Qinglong

It is the official opinion of NiuBBall that Liaoning should be better than they are. Like, way better. After Guangdong’s roster of National Team stars, Liaoning  has the best domestic lineup of players. With Guo Ailun, Zhang Qingpeng, Yang Ming, Han Dejun and Li Xiaoxu among others all healthy this season, there was simply no good reason as to why the Jaguars weren’t in the post-season.

And it’s an opinion that Liaoning management apparently agrees with. They fired Guo Shiqiang midway through the season and after his replacement, Li Ge couldn’t guide them to a better record, they’ve decided they’re done with him too. According to QQ Sports, Liaoning at first had decided to find a foreign coach, but with the National Games coming up in 2013 — a competition that foreigners are not allowed to participate — management felt going with a Chinese coach was the better decision.

Atop their list was Jiang Xingquan, who is from the province and coached Liaoning in 1970 and from 1976-90. Jiang’s homecoming in the twilight of his career seemed like a storybook ending to the most impressive resume in Chinese basketball history, until Liaoning’s master plan hit a snag: Jiang wasn’t down. Jiang has a good deal in Xinjiang and at 72 years-old, he’s not willing to go through the day-to-day grind of head coach.

So in comes Wu Qinglong, who coached at Liaoning from 1997-2001, where he lead the team to two appearances in the CBA Finals in four years. In the years after, he served as head coach in Yunnan, Shaanxi, Shanxi and Fujian among other teams before landing back with Liaoning as their youth coach, and with the China Youth National Teams. Last year, he coached the Chinese U-16 Team (lead by none other than Zhou Qito a gold medal at the FIBA Asia U-16 Championship.

Xinjiang signs Cui Wanjun to five-year deal, Jiang Xingquan to step down (again)

If his re-appointment as head coach just 11 games into the Bob Donewald era was shocking, this is the exact opposite: Jiang Xingquan, after telling Liaoning no thank you, won’t be in his big chair on the Xinjiang bench next season. The Xinmin Evening News is citing an anonymous source who says that Xinjiang has officially signed Cui Wanjun to a five-year deal. The 72 year-old Jiang will go back to his original position as advisor, a role that he agreed upon shortly after the team hired Donewald last summer.

Cui is actually a pretty interesting story. Hardcore Memphis Tigers fans will remember him as the Chinese guy who was with John Calipari and the rest of the Tiger coaching staff for the entire 2007-08 season in Memphis. As an intern, Cui followed Coach Cal and the team so he could learn their practice structure, up-tempo offense, strength and conditioning methods,and overall team management. After the season in June, he received a Final Four ring from Calipari when he and a group of players from Conference USA came to China for a set of exhibition games and coaching clinics.

Careful NiuBBall readers will recognize Cui as the former head coach of the NBL’s Jiangsu Tongxi, who in addition to winning a championship last year, also helped polish the game of Rookie of the Year, Zhu Yanxi. I’ve never seen Tongxi play, but they apparently liked to play fast; not surprising given Cui’s connection with Calipari.

Wang Min the latest head to roll at Jiangsu

Joining Liaoning and Bayi on the list of traditional CBA powers not to make the playoffs this season, Jiangsu is busy cleaning house as they try to recover from a dead last place 9-23 season. Longtime head coach, Xu Qiang, was the first to be axed before his replacement, Hu Weidong, was told not to come back after the season. Not content with just clearing out the bench, Dragons general manager, Wang Min, is also stepping down.

After finishing in fourth place last year after Antoine Wright saved their season from Ricky Davis, one would have hoped that Jiangsu had learned how to pick good imports this season. Instead, they signed Dan Gadzuric and Mardy Collins, both of whom didn’t last more than eight games. Gadzuric was replaced by 2010-11 First Teamer, Jackson Vroman, who CBA teams should have never let get away in the first place; Collins was replaced by Marcus Williams (the UCONN one), who may have been the worst import in league history.

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CBA Playoffs Recap: Round 1 – Game 5

March 4, 2012


DongGuan – 88 @ Xinjiang – 109

After missing Wednesday’s Game 4 with an injury, Tim Pickett returned to rip apart DongGuan for 43 points and 15 rebounds as Xinjiang moved on to win do-or-die Game 5 in Urumqi. Xinjiang will face Guangdong for the fourth straight season, this time in the semi-finals.

After getting off to a slow start offensively with Ike Diogu on the floor, Xinjiang head coach, Jiang Xingquan, subbed Pickett in at the midway point in the first quarter and immediately the longtime CBA vet showed that his injury wasn’t going to affect his game, blowing by a DongGuan defender in transition for a lay-up. But, it was in the second quarter where Pickett made his mark, leading an 11-0 run that included a couple of deep threes. By halftime, the Flying Tigers had taken a 62-43 lead, and essentially the game.

For DongGuan, Josh Akognon scored a team-high 29 points, but his 1-12 shooting from the three-point line meant that the Leopards could never really get into a rhythm offensively. As a team, they finished the game 2-26 from the outside. Getting beat by 12 on on the offensive glass and turning the ball over 22 times didn’t help matters either. But for DongGuan, who are stocked with one of the most promising young rosters in the league, a Game 5 loss in Urumqi — arguably the toughest place to play in the CBA — the loss may just be a small bump in the road as head coach Brian Goorjian looks geared to build better things next season.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

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Kenyon Martin leaves Xinjiang, to be replaced with Gani Lawal

December 27, 2011


Kenyon Martin is officially out in Xinjiang. As Yahoo! Sports first reported, the Flying Tigers negotiated a buyout with the 11-year NBA vet that will allow him to go back to the United States. Per CBA rules, Martin will not receive a FIBA letter of clearance until Xinjiang plays their final game of the season, which means that he will not be able to sign with an NBA team until sometime in March.

Martin’s departure comes on the heels of Xinjiang’s decision to part ways with American head coach, Bob Donewald, just 11 games into the season after the team got off to a 7-4 start. Donewald, who also serves as the current Chinese National Team head coach, was hired away from the Yao Ming-owned Shanghai Sharks in the summer to help lead Xinjiang to their first ever title. The team has lost in the CBA Finals the last three seasons.

According to a report published by China Daily, Martin and Xinjiang came to a common ground on a buyout shortly after the coaching change was made.

In his 12 games for the Flying Tigers, Martin averaged 13.9 points and 9.7 rebounds.

Although the Flying Tigers are undoubtedly still licking their wounds from what has been a tumultuous December, the season and turnstile frequency of personnel moves continues, and they have agreed to sign big man Gani Lawal, who was cut by the San Antoino Spurs during training camp.

Lawal, who played collegiately at Georgia Tech before being drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 2010, is a low-post grinder who prefers to play with his back to the basket. He played in Poland for Zastal Zielona Góra during the lockout and averaged 16.5 points and 11.7 rebounds over 10 games.

Lawal will join an organization that is currently in severe disarray. After finishing 31-1 and playing in the Finals last year, Xinjiang entered this season with championship or bust expectations and attitude. Instead, their championship aspirations suffered a severe blow before the first game was even played when Quincy Douby, arguably the best offensive player in the CBA last season, was ruled out for the entire season after breaking his wrist during the preseason.

Xinjiang struggled to move on from Douby’s devastating  injury. They started the new season in uncharted territory after being blown out by Shanxi in Round 1 before losing to Beijing in Round 6 to start the season 3-2. While they have remained in the top half of the league standings, consecutive losses to Shanghai and Guangsha in Rounds 11 and 12 sent Xinjiang’s management into full panic mode. Donewald was let go after Round 13; Martin left soon after.

Lawal will team up with Douby’s replacement, Patty Mills, who leads the team in scoring with 26.5 points per game.

What’s next for Martin looks to be pretty simple. As’ Chris Broussard accurately writes, Martin — and any other NBA free-agent who has ideas of signing with an NBA team anytime soon — must honor the agreement he made when he signed in September and wait until his team plays its last game until he can sign with a team. As Broussard writes:

All the NBA players who signed to play in China during the lockout, including Martin, did so with the understanding and contractual obligation to stay throughout the entire CBA season. Of course, anyone can leave a team, but the Chinese teams will not clear such players to play elsewhere (NBA, Europe, etc.) until his particular Chinese team finishes its season, whether before, during or after the CBA playoffs.

There has been talk that NBA players can buy out of their contracts for $500,000, but even that sum isn’t going to move CBA officials to clear guys to play in the NBA.

“China will let these guys go home, but they’ll stop your money or even ask you for some of the money back, and you can’t play for another team around the world until your team in China’s season is over,” the source said.

The decision to grant out-clauses is not up to individual teams, but rather the Chinese Basketball Association. Unless something drastically changes, they’ll stay consistent with the rules they made this summer.

With the 2012 London Olympics quickly approaching this summer, the league is holding its number one priority — the success of the National Team — above all else, even high-profile NBA-to-CBA players. Given the chance to have locked-out superstars like Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitkzi sign in China earlier this season, the CBA went the other way and banned all players under NBA contract from signing in China this season. On top of that, they also passed a rule that restricted players from signing back-to-the-NBA out clauses that would have allowed a free passage back to the States whenever the lockout ended.

The rules were passed to maintain stability and to ensure a smooth season in preparation for the Olympics. In the eyes of league officials, the chaos that would have ensued from players coming and leaving as they pleased would have resulted in unwanted unpredictability during a season where Chinese officials are gearing up for the world stage in London. A good showing in front of the whole world is more valuable long-term to the CBA than the short-term commercial windfall that would have come and gone with an NBA superstars one to two month NBA lockout China vacation.

China qualified for the Olympics by winning the FIBA Asia Championship last September.

So out goes Martin and in comes Lawal, who will join a Xinjiang team looking to prove that the season is not lost. While this season has been a nightmare in Northwest China, it’s hard to put the blame squarely on the players’ shoulders; the Flying Tigers’ management have simply set their expectations too high. After losing Douby, finding his replacement, hiring a new coach, and signing a supposed franchise cornerstone all within a few months, it was ludicrous to think that this team would have meshed quickly to begin the season with all pistons firing. It takes time for a coach to teach his system and get to know his players and vice versa. Guangsha hired a new coach, Jim Cleamons, and brought in a star player of their own, Wilson Chandler, and they are just now figuring out how to play with one another.

The personnel moves that Xinjiang has made in the last week are expectations induced panic moves.  But that’s the beauty of it — as CBA writers these types of moves have become our expectations. After all, this is basketball with Chinese characteristics.

Edward Bothfeld also contributed to this story. He can be followed on Twitter @bothfeef

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CBA Round 13 Recap

December 21, 2011


Shanxi – 112 @ Guangsha – 126

For a full report, check out Edward Bothfeld’s recap from Hangzhou.

DongGuan – 104 @ Guangdong – 128

Aaron Brooks had 27 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists to check in his best all-around performance in China this season as the Southern Tigers cruised past the Leopards in their DongGuan derby match-up. James Singleton added a double-double of his own with 24 points and 10 rebounds. The Tigers raced out to a big lead early and never looked back, using 14 threes to bury their opponents. It’s their seventh straight win of the season.

Jon Pastuszek

Qingdao – 97 @ Beijing – 105

Beijing moved closer to an unblemished first half of the season record by beating Qingdao at home. Stephon Marbury and Randolph Morris combined for 58 points, Rookie of the Year candidate Zhu Yanxi had 13 and Zhai Xiaochuan chipped in with 10.  The Eagles went 8 of 35 from three, a performance which could mostly be attributed to Lester Hudson’s 5 of 18 bricklayer’s convention. With Xinjiang, Guangdong and Zhejiang Chouzhou all out of the way, Beijing stands an excellent chance of running the table for CBA’s first rotation through the schedule.

Jon Pastuszek

Jilin – 89 @ Xinjiang – 94

Xinjiang once again started out of the gates slow, and once again found themselves down in the fourth quarter. But, unlike games against Beijing, Shanghai and Guangsha, the Flying Tigers dug deep and came up with a victory down the stretch to avoid what would have been a three-game losing streak. Patty Mills came up with several huge shots in the fourth and finished with a team high 26 points. Mengke Bateer, limited by illness, only played 22 minutes and scored 6 points and 6 rebounds. But Tang Zhengdong, who has disappointed for most of the season, came up with 16 big points to fill in.

But, the win was just a minor story in Urumqi as the team announced that head coach, Bob Donewald Jr., had been replaced by the man he replaced in the offseason, Jiang Xingquan. Chants of “Denghuade, xia ke!” (Fire Donewald!) boomed through the arena for most of the game and grew the loudest in the second half when Xinjiang lost the lead. For a full write-up, read this.

On a side note: Osama Dahglas played all 48 minutes, which meant that once again, Yu Shulong sat on the bench for the entire game.

Jon Pastuszek

Shanghai -94 @ Bayi – 85

Shanghai’s American duo of Mike Harris and Ryan Forehan-Kelly lead their club to a form-defying win over Bayi, that was also their first away win of the season. The Sharks started brightly only to find themselves pushed and knocked around a Bayi side that didn’t care much for subtleties. Some in-your-face, physical basketball unsettled the Sharks, who threw away a halftime lead of 14 points in the third quarter before Harris and RFK came storming back to exploit some glaring holes in the Rockets backcourt and put the game to bed.

RFK’s 31 points demonstrated his importance to the side and why his loss would have been disastrous to the Sharks had he not been passed fit. Harris unleashed a maelstrom of swagger as he made 24 points, whilst young guards Feng Tian and Meng Lingyuan gave further notice of their potential with double digit scores of 13 and 11. Han Shuo, who made 21 points and centre Wang Zhizhi, who got 17, were among five Bayi players to make double figures.
Andrew Crawford

Fujian – 94 @ Liaoning – 108

Foshan – 96 @ Zhejiang – 103

Shandong – 99 @ Jiangsu – 91

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Xinjiang replaces Bob Donewald with Jiang Xingquan

December 21, 2011


Frustrated by years of coming in second place, the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers brought in the man who has lead the Chinese National Team to the top of Asian basketball this summer, coach Bob Donewald Jr., to get them to the top of the Chinese Basketball Association. To everyone’s shock, Donewald couldn’t even get the team past the Round 13.

In a move that defines basketball with Chinese characteristics, the Flying Tigers have relieved Donewald of his head coaching duties after just 11 games. He will be replaced by the man who was forced to step down in the summer, Jiang Xingquan, who coached the team for the last five seasons. Jiang had been with the team as a consultant after Donewald had been hired. He will coach tonight during Xinjiang’s Round 14 home game against Liaoning.

The decision is a highly surprising one. Fed up from losing in the CBA Finals the last three seasons, Xinjiang went out in the offseason and invested almost roughly US $10 million to upgrade the squad on a number of levels. Their first major change, however, was on the bench. Dissatisfied with the way Xinjiang lost in the Finals last year after going 31-1 in the regular season, management signed Donewald, who has been head coach of the Chinese National team since April 2010, to a record contract to replace longtime coach, Jiang.

The hiring seemed like an excellent move. Beyond having coached Team China to a Round of 16 appearance in the 2010 World Championship, a gold medal at the Asian Games the following November, and a title at the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship, Donewald has also had success in the CBA. Two seasons ago in his first stint in China, he coached the Shanghai Sharks up from a disastrous 6-44 last place finish in 2008-09, to a magical 25-7 turnaround that resulted with an appearance in CBA semi-finals.

But Donewald was unable to match the insanely high expectations of an impatient Xinjiang team who demands excellence in the regular season almost as much as they do in the Playoffs. Their 7-4 record is the Flying Tigers’ worst start to the season since 2006-07 and in the eyes of management, was unacceptable given the level of investment they put in during the offseason. Faced with a potential reality of a mere top four finish, the team ultimately felt a championship was unobtainable under Donewald’s leadership and the team thus opted to go with the familiar face in Jiang.

According to Sina Sports, the decision was geared by the Xinjiang Provincial Sports Bureau. On Friday December 16th before Xinjiang lost to Guangsha, Li Guanming, the Number One at the Sports Bureau, said at an annual meeting that the success of the Flying Tigers represents the glory of the province, and that losing is unacceptable.

“Xinjiang basketball isn’t just about one man,” said Li. “It’s about the hopes of the 20 million people who live in Xinjiang. We can’t allow this kind of season to continue. If we lose again, then we have to consider making a change.”

Donewald won his next game on Sunday against Jilin, but by then it was too late. During the game, fans could be heard chanting “Fire Donewald!” their volume increasing in the second half when Xinjiang gave the lead away. That may have been the final straw for both the team and the Xinjiang local government, who feel it’s the team’s duty to win glory for the area.

The four losses to start this season were not up to par with other Xinjiang teams from years past, but unlike in previous years, the franchise was undergoing a massive transformation on all fronts that arguably needed some time to gel. In addition to Donewald, the team overhauled the roster with seven new players, including Kenyon Martin, three-time CBA MVP, Tang Zhengdong, who transferred over from Jiangsu, sharp-shooter Zhao Yonggang, who came over from Foshan, and Meng Duo who is on loan from DongGuan. Martin, one of four high-profile NBA-to-CBA players who opted to sign in China during the NBA lockout, was signed to a record breaking deal that made him the highest paid player in CBA history.

Beyond all of that, the team was also coping with the unexpected loss of Quincy Douby, who suffered a season ending wrist injury during the pre-season against Shanghai. Douby, the 2010-11 MVP, enjoyed one of the most singularly dominant seasons in CBA history and was considered by many to be the best CBA import of all time after he set single game scoring records for both the All-Star Game and the Finals. In the summer, he was signed to a one-year$2 million dollar deal, which was the richest contract in league history at the time.

Xinjiang, however, was apparently not in any mood to hear excuses, no matter how valid some of them probably were. Their quick trigger in replacing Donewald is indicative of the volatile and unpredictable nature that has come to define this league over the last decade. The people who run the team, similar to people who run the league, are businessmen and government officials who have little knowledge of basketball. The only factors that ultimately matter are the ones on the win-loss record. In the eyes of Xinjiang management, the team went 31-1 last season with a roster that was less talented than this current one. Though they probably weren’t expecting an undefeated season, they were expecting another dominant run towards a championship. For whatever reason, however, the team wasn’t blowing out teams like they were last year. Added to the four losses and Xinjiang felt that the Donewald-era simply wasn’t going to work.

The team will now move forward with Jiang. He is known for leading National Team through their “Golden Age” period from 1991-95 that peaked with a top eight finish at the 1994 FIBA World Championship, an accomplishment which still stands today as China’s best finish in major international competition. In 2002, he headed Xinjiang’s successful promotion campaign that saw the team get promoted from the league’s second-tier B-League up to its premier league. He returned to the team in 2006 after spending time as an assistant with the National Team and a head coach in Liaoning.

Jiang is known as a no nonsense old-school Chinese coach who demands the utmost discipline out of his players. Last May, Sina Sports released Jiang’s strict set of rules that he applies to all of his Chinese players, which include a curfew and a set time for lights out. His inflexible style has been known to create issues amongst players, specifically foreign ones. Last year, his relationship with forward James Singleton got so bad that the two barely talked during the end of the regular season an into the Playoffs.

What Donewald will do in the short-term isn’t clear, but his dismissal from Xinjiang will not affect his status as head coach of the National Team. Said CBA comissioner, Bai Xilin, “In regards to the current situation this season, his position with the club is a club decision. It has nothing to do with the National Team.” Donewald reportedly signed a four-year deal worth US $4 million with Xinjiang. At present, it is not known as to how that will be dealt with.

Xinjiang plays Liaoning at home tonight before going on the road to play against the team they’ve been trying to get past the last years, Guangdong, on Friday.

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2011-2012 CBA Preview

November 20, 2011


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 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 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 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 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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Imports, imports, imports…

October 15, 2011


Since the China took home gold FIBA Asia Championship, we admit that the blog has been rather quiet. And while we’d like to have you believe that we’ve been celebrating China’s achievement for the last three weeks, the real reason is that we’re settling into a new job that has taken us away from our blogging duties. For the blog, and most importantly our valued viewers, our separation from our keyboards couldn’t have come at a worse time — post-Championship, there has been a number of foreign signings, both American and Asian. We abandoned you at arguably your biggest time of need, and for that we offer our apologies.
But never fear. At NiuBBall, we always aim to please. Which is why for your convenience (and because we like you), we’re working on adding a permanent section of the site that will list each team’s foreign players and (possibly) other cool stuff about them as well. No timetable as to when that’s getting done, but just know that it’s in the works. In the meantime, we offer these handy-dandy bullet points as a way for you to get caught up on all the import signings that have gone down post-Asia Championship. If we missed one, its because we’ve been a little out of the loop the last few weeks, so please feel free to hit up the comments section and tell us who we left out.


  • After signing 9 year NBA pro, Dan Gadzuric, to a deal in the beginning of October, Jiangsu Nangang general manager, Wang Min, has announced the addition of 2004 lottery pick, Sebastian Telfair. According to HoopsWorld, Telfair had offers from Chinese teams since September, but was cold on the idea of moving overseas. However, with no clear end to the lockout in sight, it looks as if Bassy reevaluated his options and decided to play in China this year. The terms of the deal were not disclosed by Wang. We’re already looking forward to Telfair going head-to-head against his cousin, Stephon Marbury, when Jiangsu and Beijing match-up this season.
  • After missing out on Kobe Bryant, Shanxi has decided to go with two extremely reliable imports with CBA experience, Charles Gaines and Marcus Williams. In his second season playing in China last year, Gaines averaged 33 points and 12 rebounds for Qingdao Double Star, while the triple-double machine Williams put up 29.6 points, 5.4 assists, 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 steals over 26 games after coming over as a replacement for Mike James at Zhejiang Chouzhou. The combination puts 40% of’s All-First Team on the Brave Dragons this year, which should excite fans and (maybe) even their crazy owner, too. The two should put up monster numbers again this season, but with Shanxi’s Chinese roster as thin as always and their owner as crazy as ever, the team is hardly considered a lock for the playoffs.
  • Foshan Guangdong — aka the team that Stephon Marbury played for last year — who had been among the last few teams who hadn’t signed a single import in late September, officially signed Marcus Douthit. Drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the 2004 NBA Draft, Douthit has an extremely diverse basketball resume, playing for teams in Belgium, Turkey, Russia, Korea and the Philippines. Last June, Douthit became a naturalized citizen of the Phillipines, and played for the national team last September in the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship. Foshan has yet to sign their second import.
  • The three-time defending champion Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers added another layer to the intracrate rivalry they have between the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, the team they’ve beaten in the Finals the last three years, by signing the Flying Tigers’ import from last year, James Singleton. NiuBBall’s first ever interview, the rugged and versatile Singleton enjoyed All-First Team status last year and should be a good fit among Guangdong’s core of Chinese national team players. He should also be a good fit alongside head coach, Li Chunjiang, who unlike Singleton’s old coach in Xinjiang, Jiang Xingquan, does not have a reputation of being a militaristic dictator.
  • This we just flat out fell asleep on: Fujian SBS has had their entire import roster rounded out since mid-September, a fact which we inexplicably failed to mention. Anthony Roberson and Will McDonald will serve as the team’s two imports, while Zaid Abbas will fill in the team’s Asian import slot. They’ll all play under new American head coach, Joseph Stiebing, who coached the Qatari National Team from 2004-2006.
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The very late “China is going to London” post

September 28, 2011


By taking home gold at the FIBA Asia Championship, Bob Donewald got the last laugh over his opponents and his critics. (Photo: Sina Sports)


“I know what they are saying and I understand them. Fans get upset because they don’t know what happens in our team. My job is not to make them happy now, but please them in September.” — Bob Donewald, speaking to reporters during the Stankovic Cup on August 11.

If you haven’t heard already, China has qualified for a spot in the 2012 London Olympics after beating Jordan in the FIBA Asia Championship Finals on Sunday. With the win, the Chinese net their first Asia Championship since Yao Ming days of yore in 2005, their 15th title overall. They also keep the Olympic streak alive at ten consecutive appearances, a streak which started in 1976.

If you’ve been following us, you already know that we think China’s triumph comes as somewhat of a surprise. Not earth-shaking, but still surprising nonetheless. Limping into a tournament without two key players, the streak-scoring, clutch-shooting Wang Shipeng, and the rangy, versatile Zhou Peng, China was not only severely shorthanded, they were shorthanded going up against arguably the best competition in Asia Championship history. Two-time defending champ, Iran, added an NCAA All-Conference forward to its championship roster. 2010 Asian Games runner-up, Korea, had its core team intact. Lebanon, Jordan and the Philippines all naturalized a talented American to join alongside their squad. And plus, China just didn’t look very good coming into the tournament, going so far as to losing to Great Britain, a team that didn’t even exist five years ago.

And yet, as evidenced by the quote above, China didn’t care. Speficially, Bob Donewald didn’t care. Throughout the summer, Donewald maintained that none of China’s endless amount of exhibition and warm-up games mattered. Ultimately, the success of China’s summer would be judged on whether him and his team were lifting up a big trophy while wearing special edition “Champions of Asia” t-shirts. Now instead of people clamoring for his removal, fans and media alike are hoping that Donewald will be on board for London in 2012. Good for them, the Chinese Basketball Association has announced that they won’t be replacing their head coach before then.

Would things have been different for Donewald and China if Jordan hadn’t shocked Iran in the quarter-finals? It’s worth asking because Iran is the only team that’s been China on the AsiaBasket stage recently, and they were the only team capable of matching up with China inside.

Thankfully, China doesn’t have to find that answer out. That’s what winning does. A week ago, Donewald headed into the knockout stage as a man balancing delicately on his Chinese National Team tightrope. A loss would have sent him plummeting from his position atop the Chinese basketball world. Now that he’s won, he can go back indoors where he’ll be free to leave on his own terms after the Olympics.

But, let’s say China and Donewald had lost. Would it have been Donewald’s fault? Would it have been his fault that the CBA needlessly scheduled over 20 exhibition matches to get ready for the competition? Would it have been his fault that two of his most important players, Wang and Zhou, were hurt largely as a biproduct of year-round training? Would it have been his fault that China still doesn’t have a point-guard who is capable even in the Asian arena?

If you’re going to ask a question about Iran — and again, we think its valid considering that China just didn’t match up that well against them — then we think you also need to ask those questions above. Because at the end of the day, without Yao Ming, China just isn’t that good. Sure, youngsters like Yi Li and Ding Jinhui stepped up in big moments against Jordan, and Yi Jianlian gave a dominant performance when his team needed it the most. But, the core that played around Yao Ming is still intact. And that’s not because they’re still really good, its because there’s no adequate replacements behind them. Forced to depend on the creaky Wang Zhizhi, Liu Wei and Zhu Fangyu, Donewald had no choice but to jog lightly through the summer and save his team’s strength for one final push in September.

Which is why, to us, Donewald is a great hire for Xinjiang. Because of the tremendous gap between the top tier (Xinjiang and Guangdong) and everyone else, the CBA regular season and the first two rounds of the Playoffs are nothing more than a glorified schedule of warm-up matches, an unavoidable prelude to what will be the only competitive and meaningful set of games that will be played all season — a Finals match-up between Xinjiang and Guangdong. Though Xinjiang will win all but one or two of these games, the concept is quite similar to the Chinese National Team: pace yourself, don’t get anyone hurt, and save up all energy for the big game.

Last season, Xinjiang’s militaristic head coach, the old-school Jiang Xingquan, would flip out about, well pretty much everything. His tight grip on the team instilled discipline, but it also created a level of self-doubt inside his own players that caused them to freeze up in critical moments during the Flying Tigers’ eventual loss to Guangdong. This year with Donewald, he’ll likely have his team focusing on the big picture, a philosophy that he’s already put into practice this summer.

The pressure at Xinjiang will be the same as it was with the National Team in Wuhan: Win, or find another job. With team ownership spending upwards of US $10 million to bring in Donewald, Kenyon Martin, Tang Zhengdong, Meng Duo and Zhao Yonggang this year, anything less but a championship will be unacceptable.

Off on tightrope, and on to another.

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Xinjiang to re-sign Douby to record contract, hire Donewald as head coach

July 1, 2011


Quincy Douby will be back in Xinjiang next season for another run at a title.

The Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers got closer to their first ever Chinese Basketball Association championship than ever before last season by spending a record amount of money on foreign imports.

Bent on finally getting over the hump, Xinjiang is set to spend even more.

Going absolutely for broke in their obsession to win a championship, Xinjiang is set to bring in a duo of high-profile foreigners, one coach and one player, at a record amount of money.  According to Sina, Xinjiang will give out the most money to a single player in CBA history when they re-sign Quincy Douby to a reported a one-year $2 million extension this summer.  And according to Basketball Pioneers, Xinjiang will pay Chinese National Team head coach, Bob Donewald, to a record $1 million next year to act as their head coach.

Though neither has officially signed as of yet, their signatures are expected soon.

“Douby was always going to re-sign with Xinjiang,” said Douby’s Chinese agent to a Sina reporter.  “Right now, negotiations are pretty much wrapped up.  He absolutely won’t be playing in any other country next year, including the NBA, and he definitely will not be playing for another CBA team.  There is only one possibility, and  that is re-signing with Xinjiang.  The only thing that has yet to be done is signing the contract.  We just have to discuss the final salary figure.”

Whatever the final figure will be, it will be more than Douby earned last year, and it will be more than anyone will be earning in the NBA for the foreseeable future.  Last season, frustrated from two straight losses in the CBA finals to the Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers, Xinjiang spent a combined $3 million on Douby and James Singleton, who rejected a one-year offer from the Washington Wizards for an estimated $1.6 million contract to play in China.  Although Douby and Singleton led Xinjiang to a 31-1 regular season record, Xinjiang again came up short in the finals to Guangdong, losing 4-2 in one of the most competitive playoff series in CBA history.

“Two months ago, we contacted Xinjiang to propose a $2.5 million salary for next year.  Since then, we’ve been in ongoing negotiations.  Right now, the amount is around the $2 million range.”

In his first season in China, the former Rutgers standout averaged 31.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.7 steals a game to record one of the finest individual seasons in league history.  He also set league records for most points scored in an All-Star game and most points scored in a CBA Finals game.

For Donewald however, signing with Xinjiang was not always expected.  In fact, quite the opposite.  The Chinese basketball world was left stunned on Wednesday when the Shanghai Sharks, who Donewald had coached for the last two years, announced on their official team website that the two sides had agreed not to pick up the American’s option for a final year.  Donewald had been with the Sharks, which is owned by Yao Ming, since 2009.

As also the head coach of the Chinese National Team, a position he rose up to in April 2010 after leading the Sharks to a 27-5 record in his first season after they had finished in last place at 6-44 the year before, Donewald carries considerable influence and respect inside of China.  He is most admired for his ability to develop Chinese talent, while also instill confidence and passion into all of his players.  Based in the remote northwestern province of Xinjiang, the Flying Tigers do not have anywhere close to the level of domestic players other teams have, specifically Guangdong, who carries up to seven Senior National Team members on their roster in addition to two American imports.

When asked for a comment about his widely reported move to Xinjiang by a reporter yesterday, Donewald gave no comment.

“It looks like it’s going to rain, I gotta go,” laughed Donewald.

With Donewald expected to officially sign with Xinjiang by the end of next week, Jiang Xingquan will be forced to resign. He will likely remain with the team as a consultant.

In two seasons with the Sharks, Donewald compiled an overall record of 41-30, including a semi-finals appearance in 2009-10.  He worked as an assistant coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers and New Orleans Hornets from 2001 to 2004. Previous to working in China, Donewald coached in the U.S., England Brazil and the Ukraine.

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Bob Donewald and Shanghai part ways, next stop Xinjiang?

June 30, 2011


Xinjiang is hoping that the always passionate Bob Donewald will be the missing piece to their championship aspirations. (Photo courtesy of NetEase)

The Shanghai Dongfang Sharks and head coach Bob Donewald Jr. have officially split ways after the team agreed to release Donewald from his contract earlier this week.  The news comes after a statement was released on the Sharks’ official website by “Team Yao,” a group of advisors and strategists who represent Sharks owner, Yao Ming.

In two full seasons with the Sharks, Donewald, who also acts as the Chinese Senior National Team head coach, compiled an overall record of 41-30, including a semi-finals appearance in 2009-10.  This past season, the Sharks failed to make the playoffs, finishing the year at 12-20.

The statement, which comes only hours after NetEase first reported the possibility of a split earlier this afternoon, announced that Donewald and the team had broke off from their contract earlier this week, and that the team will start a search for a new coach immediately.  No specific names were mentioned.

Though Shanghai’s next move is unclear at this point, Donewald’s is not.  In the original NetEase story released this afternoon, it was reported that the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers are poised to sign Donewald to a lucrative deal next season with the hope that he can lead the team to their first ever league championship.  Xinjiang has lost in the CBA Finals the last three years.

In the official statement, Shanghai announced the split and thanked Donewald for his two years of service.

Said the statement, “A few days ago, Shanghai Sharks head coach, Bob Donewald, and Shanghai Dongfang cancelled their contract together, and Donewald will thus no longer be with the team.  Shanghai general manager, Zhang Ming, would like to express that while coach Donewald was with the Sharks, he infused the club with advanced ideas and concepts, and his distinct personality.  In order to support Donewald’s personal considerations to develop himself professionally, the club has decided to break his contract.  We wish him even more success as he continues to remain on the platform of the Chinese Basketball Association.”

According to NetEase, Donewald and Shanghai had originally signed a two-year deal with a mutual option for a third. But, citing an anonymous figure with inside knowledge of the situation, NetEase is reporting that the two sides’ negotiations broke down after Shanghai refused to match Xinjiang’s offer.

The news is unexpected. Last month, Xinjiang announced they were bringing back head coach, Jiang Xingquan, for another season, despite rampant speculation that Jiang would retire at the end of the year.  However, according to a Sina report released today, Xinjiang eventually decided to go in a different direction by starting a search for a new head coach.  The possibility of bringing in a foreign coach was always high, but clearly nobody expected the team to target Donewald, as today was the first time this story was mentioned.

Though there is no news officially confirming Donewald’s move to Xinjiang, it is widely expected that he will eventually sign in the coming weeks.

Donewald’s ascension to the top of Chinese basketball is noteworthy not only because he is a foreigner, but also because of the speed at which it has been accomplished by.  In his first season in China in 2009-10, Donewald produced one of the most improbable turnarounds in league history, resurrecting a one-time championship franchise from a nearly bankrupt afterthought into a legitimate top four contender.  Behind current NBA players Garret Siler and John Lucas, Jordanian national team forward, Zaid Abbas, and Chinese national team point-guard Liu Wei, the Sharks went from a last place 6-44 record, to 27-5, the fourth best record in the league.  The Sharks beat the Liaoning PanPan Hunters in the first round of the playoffs before losing to eventual champion, the Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers, in the semi-finals.

Shortly after the season, the Chinese Basketball Association hired Donewald as the head coach of the Chinese national team.  With the team undergoing a transitional period as it adjusts to replace the aging core of Yao Ming, Wang Zhizhi and Liu Wei, Donewald’s ability to develop young players was viewed as a crucial element in his hiring.  Bringing a a level of visible enthusiasm on the sideline rarely seen in China, Donewald has quickly garnered praise and respect from inside of China.  Under his direction, several Chinese players have improved dramatically.  All of his players have mirrored Donewald’s passion for the game, especially on the defensive end, and as a result, the team is competing and playing harder than they ever have before.  In the 2010 World Championship in Turkey, Donewald led China out of the knockout stages before they were eliminated by Greece Lithuania in the Round of 16.

This season in the CBA however, Shanghai was unable to repeat their success from last year.  League rules allow the four teams with the worst record to sign an Asian import who can be used in addition to two non-Asian imports.  Because Shanghai finished with the worst record in the league in 2008-09, they were able to sign Abbas to play alongside Siler and Lucas. However, by finishing outside the bottom four last season, Shanghai was not allowed to bring back Abbas as an Asian import and thus played the season without a key contributor from the year before.  In addition to being shorter on talent than they were the previous season, the Sharks’ problems were compounded by a series of high profile off-season acquisitions that ultimately failed to live up to the hype.  The Sharks’ season opening import duo of Mike Harris and Devin Green was quickly scrapped as the team got out of gates slowly, and “Max” Zhang Zhaoxu, left the University of California Berkeley one year early to sign professionally with the team, was unable to fill the departed Siler’s role as an effective defensive presence inside.

Donewald was born in 1970 and worked as an assistant coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers and New Orleans Hornets from 2001 to 2004.  Previous to working in China, Donewald coached in the U.S., England Brazil and the Ukraine.

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James Singleton is the latest to call Jiang Xingquan “military”

June 8, 2011

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Despite relative success, James Singleton’s year with the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers was a tough ride for the four year NBA veteran.

Like almost all foreign players who played last year in the CBA, James Singleton is back in his home country, watching the NBA Finals, living in the comfort of familiar surroundings… and doing interviews on international satellite radio.

OK, well maybe the latter is quite unlike most CBA foreign players.  But, that’s because Singleton’s story is very different than most Chinese imports. What, you think NBA-caliber players who reject NBA contracts to play in rural China just grow on trees?

The answer: no.  Which is why Singleton appeared on Canadian radio show, Hardcore Hoops, which is broadcast by The Score, to talk about his year with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers.

To give an equally brief and general recap of what happened with the former Clipper-Maverick-Wizard foward this year in Urumqi, Singleton was brought in with former King-Raptor guard, Quincy Douby, to form the highest paid foreign player combination in league history.  The reason was simple: beat the Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers, the team who had beat Xinjiang with ease in the CBA Finals the last two years.

And though he, Douby and the Flying Tigers won the franchise’s first ever regular season title, the team ultimately fell short in their quest to win a CBA title, losing to the same team, the now seven-time champion Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers, for the third straight year.

Back in his home base of Dallas for almost two months since the loss, Singleton, who has had some time to ponder his year with the Flying Tigers, painted his Xinjiang portrait as one full of frustration and dismay:

It was kind of tough for me when I first got there.  The guys were all so willing to learn.  You know, me and [Quincy] Douby when we first got in we tried to teach them different things, but… They had a coach [Jiang Xingquan] there that was just … military … you know, he wouldn’t let them progress and learn. You know everything was one way or no way. And they were so afraid to just go out there and play basketball that it got to the point where we got to the championship, they all just locked up because if they made a mistake, they’d look straight at the bench.”

As NiuBBall readers know, similar to a drill sergeant, the straight from the Chinese old-school Jiang rules over every aspect of his Chinese players’ lives, including when they go to sleep, when they’re allowed to talk on their cell phones, who they are allowed to see during the season and how long they are to practice.

In the interview, Singleton said he “learned to be a lot more patient” as a result of his coach’s personality.  It’s known in the CBA that he and Coach Jiang clashed, most notably late in the season.  That’s not news.  It’s also not news that Singleton, who gave us an extremely open and honest interview back in December, would be so, well, honest about his feelings towards Jiang.

We were at Games 4 and 5 of the CBA Finals in Guangdong, and we saw the exact same thing that James did — scared, unaggressive local players who were constantly looking back in fear towards the bench every time they made a mistake.  That’s no way for anybody, let alone grown men, to play good basketball.  Whereas Guangdong’s players had the freedom to play because they had a trust in their coach and his system, Xinjiang instead looked too much to its super foreign duo of Singleton and Douby to take the load simply because they didn’t think attempting to make a play was worth risking the wrath of their coach.  Instilling discipline and smart basketball through strictness is one thing.  But, scaring your players into being downright afraid?

That’s why we think it’s news that Xinjiang is bringing this guy back for another year.

Singleton also shared that upon arrival, all he ate during the first week was “eggs and rice” and that on the road, his diet consisted of McDonald’s and KFC. There are a lot of things we have been able to understand in this country, but why teams can’t find good, healthy restaurants for their foreign players when they’re on the road will always be beyond us.

When asked if he plans on making a return to the NBA next season, Singleton said:

I’m going make a push to come back [to the NBA] this year… if there’s not a lockout, I’m definitely going to be back home.  Because I haven’t lost anything.  I’ve learned more each year.  Coming back home, if you play overseas… it’s a whole new world, man.  If you can play in China, the contact in the NBA is nothing compared to the contact over there.  So it definitely gave a little bit more of a weapon to use when I come home.

Anybody who has watched Singleton, either in the NBA, Europe or China knows that he is a player who likes to bang inside, so we take his words about the differences in physicality between the NBA and China very seriously. Trust me, I know — your probably scoffing at the mere suggestion that the CBA is more physical than the NBA.  But, for those who have either played pick-up in China or watched Chinese hoops, it’s not as far fetched as you’d think.  Though local CBA players aren’t nearly as strong or athletic as NBA players, officials in China call things very loose in the paint, especially off the ball.  As almost every Chinese player tends to play defense with their upper body, the non-stop clutching, grabbing, pushing, chopping, clubbing, hugging and even the occasional choking go un-whistled most of the time.

And about his goal of coming back to the NBA, it looks like he’ll have an opportunity to make good on that.  According to Scott Schroeder at Ridiculous Upside, Singleton is among 15 players who will participate in a free-agent camp with the Oklahoma City Thunder this week.  We’d be surprised if he didn’t get a contract offer from an NBA this summer (or whenever teams are again allowed to offer contracts to free-agents).  He plays the right way, rebounds, works his butt off and doesn’t care about his own offense.  He’d be a good contributor for any team’s bench.

The rest of the interview covers James’ take on his old team’s, the Dallas Mavericks,  run to the NBA Finals , what it was like watching Dirk Nowitzki practice, and his goal to make basketball more fun for kids.  It’s well worth the listen, even if the guys at Hardcore Hoops butchered the crap out of the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers.

(H/T Truth About

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Xinjiang’s Jiang Xingquan to stay on for another year

May 24, 2011

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Contrary to rumors over his retirement, Jiang Xingquan will be back for another season at the helm of Xinjiang.

After losing to Guangdong Hongyuan the last three years in the CBA Finals, Xinjiang Guanghui isn’t intent on quitting just yet.  In fact, they’re determined to be even more competitive next season.

According to a Xinhua report, Xinjiang will bring back head coach Jiang Xingquan for another season and invest more money into the club in order to realize their ambitions of becoming “China’s top basketball team.”

“Our championship goal won’t change,” stated Xinjiang board president, Hou Wei.

Last season, Xinjiang poured an unprecedented 70,000,000 RMB (roughly $10 million) into the club, an amount three to five times more than most other teams.  Xinjiang is owned by billionaire Sun Guangxin, who according to Forbes is the 25th richest man in China and the 459th richest man in the world.

Increasingly frustrated by Xinjiang’s inability to beat Guangdong for yet another season, there were rumors that Sun had reached his wits’ end and was considering selling the team.  However, according to the article, Sun is willing to spend even more next season on players, facilities and coaches in order to capture his elusive championship.

The first order of business, locking down a head coach for next year, has already been settled.  Jiang, who is known for his unbending strictness as much as he is known for his success coaching the National Team and Xinjiang, will be brought back to coach another season.  It had been believed that the 70 year-old Jiang was retiring.

Though the announcement will bring stability to Xinjiang’s coaching situation, it also opens up an entirely new set of challenges.  Jiang’s return essentially guarantees that All-CBA 1st Team forward, James Singleton, will not come back to play for the Flying Tigers next year.  It has been widely reported that Singleton became fed up with Jiang’s authoritarian coaching style, and that the two were barely on speaking terms — both in practice and in games — by the Finals.

Concerned by the divide between their highest paid import player and their head coach, Xinjiang is taking steps to ensure another situation like that doesn’t occur in 2011-12.  In addition to bringing back Jiang, the team will also hire up to two “high quality” foreign assistant coaches.  With at least one American coach on staff, the club believes that their foreign players will be able to handle Jiang’s coaching style better.

The club still has many questions that need answering, however.  CBA regular season MVP, Mengke Bateer, is out of a contract and is unlikely to return and Zhang Qingpeng, who was brought in for a season from Liaoning, is set to return to his original club next season.  Minus Singleton and their two best domestic players, Xinjiang has some serious decisions to make on how they want to shape their roster for next season.  Obviously, a lot of those decisions will depend on what Guangdong does as well.

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Jiang Xingquan is one strict dude

May 3, 2011


Xinjiang Guanghui’s head coach, Jiang Xingquan, has been known throughout his long career as a strict disciplinarian.
(Photo via China Daily)

“Good pupils are to be brought up by strict teachers” — yán shī chū gāo tú (严师出高徒) — isn’t just a saying in China, it’s an entire philosophy on education.  The concept of yange, being strict, is believed by some in the PRC as the only way to instill students with discipline, dignity and hard-work.  It’s also practiced by parents in the Western world, like Amy Chua for example, who’s highly controversial essay written for the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” outlined the perceived advantages of raising a child under extremely strict Chinese-style supervision.

As basketball coaches are teachers too, the drill-sergeant teaching style can also carry over to the Chinese hardwood. Known for his unbending authoritarianism as much as his impressive resume of coaching accomplishments, the aforementioned Chua would probably approve of Xinjiang’s Jiang Xingquan coaching style.  Jiang, who was head coach of Team China’s “golden era” in from 1992-1995 when the Chinese finished eighth at the 1994 FIBA World Championship, prides himself on instituting harsh rules both on the court and off, demanding his players fall in line with his strict policies.  With the success his coaching style has brought, the man has his supporters, especially those who are older.

So how tight of a ship does Jiang run, then? Over the weekend, Sina reporter Zhang Shu got a hold of “Jiang Xingquan’s 11 inflexible military rules” and posted them up online for all to see.  And yeah, you betcha they’re strict.

1. During the season, all closed coil circuits must be unplugged. (Which means no T.V.)

2. During the season, all cell phones — players typically have two to three — must be handed over to the coaching staff at night.

3. Lights must be off by 10 p.m.  A coach will check the rooms to enforce this rule before players go to sleep.

4. During the season, all players are not allowed to go outside of the team compound, morning, afternoon and night.  If a player wants to go out, he must receive permission from a coach.  After he receives permission he can leave, but must report back to the coach once he returns.

5. Players are forbidden to hold social engagements outside of the team and are strictly prohibited from drinking alcohol.  Those who break this rule will be suspended from practice and fined.

6. Suspended players must write a deep self-examination.  If the self-examination is not in-depth enough then the player won’t be allowed to return to practice.  He will also be fined one month’s salary.  The seriousness of the situation will then be reassessed and the suspension will either be extended or terminated.

7. Practice will be held six days a week for five hours a day.  No practice on Sundays.

8. Players are encouraged to work out on their own on Sunday’s, but won’t be punished if they decide  not to. (If they decide not to work out, they will likely be scolded).

9. Players are prohibited from smoking cigarettes.

10. Players are forbidden to chew gum during games.

11. During the season, players are forbidden to be interviewed by the media.  If a player needs to be interviewed, he must receive permission from a coach.

Note that these rules and other similar ones instituted by other teams only apply for Chinese players; not for foreign ones.  Because honestly, there wouldn’t be any foreign players in China otherwise.

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Everything you need to know about All-Star Weekend

March 18, 2011


We’ve gotten quite a bit of e-mail about All-Star Weekend this Saturday and Sunday in Beijing — where it’s being played, who is participating, what events are being held, etc.

All participants will report in Beijing tonight.  Tomorrow night at 7:00pm, the CBA’s brightest young stars will play in the All-Rookie Game.  At halftime, the preliminaries for the Three-Point Shootout and Slam-Dunk Contest will commence.  Those who advance will go onto the finals, which will be played after the All-Star Game on Sunday night.

All-Star rosters are structured the same as domestic CBA rosters: Two imports per team, one starter and one reserve.

Here’s the official schedule:

Friday: Player Registration
Saturday, 7:00pm: CBA Rookie Game; Three-Point Shootout and Slam-Dunk Contest Preliminaries (at halftime)
Sunday, 7:00pm: CBA All-Star Game; Skills Challenge, Three-Point Shootout and Slam-Dunk Contest Finals (after the game)

Rookie Game Roster:

North: Tao Hanlin (Center, Shandong), Li An (Center, Jilin), Yu Changdong (Center, Shanxi), Guo Ailun (Guard, Liaoning), Lian Ming (Forward, Liaoning), Zhang Zhihan (Forward, Tianjin), Shen Tunjun (Guard, Tianjin), Han Chongkai (Center, Beijing), Chen Shidong (Guard, Beijing), Sun Weibo (Guard, Xinjiang)

South: Gu Quan (Forward, DongGuan), He Zhongmian (Guard, DongGuan),  Ren Junfei (Forward, Guangdong), Li Yuanyu (Center, Guangdong), Zhang Zhaojun (Center, Zhejiang), Ji Xiang (Forward, Shanghai), Zhang Chengyu (Guard, Bayi), Jin Jiming (Guard, Foshan), Zhao Dapeng (Guard, Guangsha)

Skills Competition Participants:

Guo Ailun, Liaoning
Xie Libin, Beijing
Yu Shulong, Jilin
Lin Chih-Chieh, Guangsha

Three-Point Shootout Participants:

Stephon Marbury, Foshan
Quincy Douby, Xinjiang
Zhang Qingpeng, Xinjiang
Lee Hsueh-Lin, Beijing
Zhang Bo, Bayi
Sun Jie, Shandong

Slam-Dunk Contest Participants

James Singleton, Xinjiang
Zhang Xuewen, Shandong
Wu Nan, Jiangsu
Zhang Ji, Tianjin
Wu Ke, Shandong
Zhao Tailong, Fujian SBS

North All-Star Starters:

Guard: Quincy Douby, Xinjiang
Guard: Zhang Qingpeng, Xinjiang

Forward: Zhang Nan, Tianjin
Forward: Li Xiaoxu, Liaoning

Center: Mengke Bateer, Xinjiang

North All-Star Reserves:

Guard: Yu Shulong, Jilin
Guard: Lee Hsueh-Lin, Beijing
Guard: Sun Jie, Shandong

Forward: Chen Lei, Beijing
Forward: Zhong Cheng, Jilin
Forward: Zhang Xuewen, Shanxi

Center: Randolph Morris, Beijing

Head Coach: Jiang Xingquan, Xinjiang

South All-Star Starters:

Guard: Stephon Marbury, Foshan
Guard: Wang Shipeng, Guangdong

Forward: Zhang Kai, DongGuan
Forward: Mo Ke, Bayi

Center: Wang Zhizhi, Bayi

South All-Star Reserves:

Guard: Liu Wei, Shanghai
Guard: Lin Chih-ChiehGuangsha

Forward: Zhu Fangyu, Guangdong
Forward: Yi Li, Jiangsu
Forward: Ding JinhuiZhejiang 
Forward: Marcus Williams, Zhejiang

Center: Su Wei, Guangdong

Head Coach: Li Chunjiang, Guangdong

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