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Farewell, Jilin Northeast Tigers

April 10, 2013

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The 2012-13 CBA season is officially over, which means most teams will be running three-man weaves for the next eight months as they wait for next season to start. For the teams that didn’t make the playoffs, that process has likely already begun. To ensure your squad isn’t forgotten, Leon Zhang is writing an end-of-season ode to every team in the league. In his ongoing series of CBA Farewell Letters, Leon Zhang says goodbye today to the Jilin Northeast Tigers, who finished in 14th place.

Jilin, we know many have told you that anyone can be special special — including you — but here’s the hard truth: this season you weren’t.

You are that team who recently has always had a losing record, characterized by an overmatched and raggedy group of youngsters, the overburdened imports, and mismanagement. We should add that there’s nothing wrong with being so ordinary. If you’re a player, honestly, you did the best you could.

In fact, count us in with anyone that finds it hard to criticize Jilin. By all accounts, though this wasn’t a talented team by any stretch of the imagination, it was a group that was tough and fought in every game. The plucky little underdog even pulled out some opportunistic wins, case in point a thrilling Round 19 victory against Beijing, and it’s easy to admire Dewarick Spencer (28.6 points on 53.7% shooting) and Samuel Hoskin (a walking double double with 20.9 points and 10.3 rebounds) for their production and general lack of sulking in the face of such monotonous mediocrity. It’s credit to the players on the team that we really haven’t heard much from Jilin all season, no drama, just a workmanlike effort each and every time out on the court, for a win every three games.

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The definitive NiuBBall.com CBA preview

November 22, 2012

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Stephon Marbury and the Beijing Ducks won the title last year… But will they have enough to repeat in 2012-13? (Photo: Osports)

Moreso than ever, the Chinese Basketball Association has become quite difficult to predict pre-season.

It’s hard to predict first of all because we generally stink at predictions, but more importantly that the league is as deep as its ever been top-to-bottom. There’s a more than a few reasons for that — more off-season player movement, more players going abroad to train in the summer, better coaching in-country, a commitment to strength and conditioning programs and better foreign players all round out the top of our list. But the end result of all that should be a very watchable and exciting league this season. Which is a good thing for us fans, of course.

Bad thing for NiuBBall’s annual predictions, however.

By our count, there’s 11 and possibly 12 teams (depending on how well you think Tracy McGrady is going to do in Qingdao) who have a shot at the playoffs. That’s well over half the league. If you think DongGuan is ready to make a jump (we do), then there are now four teams who could sport legitimate Finals cases. Building on Beijing’s buck-the-trend run to a championship last year, there appears to be a level of parody in the league. Pencilling in the top two, top four and top eight is no longer easy.

So as always, take what is about to come with a grain of salt and know that most likely this will all be very wrong.

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DongGuan splashes into the foreign and domestic market

September 7, 2012

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Marcus Haislip will play his third season in the Chinese Basketball Association with DongGuan New Century.

As the season looms closer and closer, elite CBA teams vying for a top place have gotten more and more aggressive with their acquisitions. Not content to watch Beijing and Xinjiang add impressive reinforcements, the Dongguan New Century Leopards have added 6’10’’ power forward, Marcus Haislip, and promising 22 year-old guard, Yu Shulong, to head coach Brian Goorjian’s rapidly emerging core.

Haislip, a University of Tennessee product, is a familiar face in the CBA. Last season for Foshan, he averaged 21 points and seven rebounds after coming in mid-season to replace Gerald Green. More importantly for a DongGuan team with the explicit goal of landing in the top four, Haislip also has valuable playoff experience. In 2010-11, he shot an incredible 77.7% rate from behind the arc to clinch a title for Guangdong Hongyuan. The former NBA lottery pick will be called upon for his postseason experience and post presence on a team that placed fifth last season before falling to Xinjiang in the quarterfinals in five games. His all-around ability should fit in well with Goorjian’s defensive schemes.

The 6’1’’ Yu is a highly regarded guard. He burst onto the CBA scene in 2009-10, averaging 11.7 points in his debut for the Jilin Northeast Tigers. Known for his speed and shooting, Yu played bit roles in the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship and 2010 FIBA World Championship as a backup while he continued to remain as a centerpiece on the Jilin team, normally logging over 35 minutes a game as a starter.

This past season, however, the diminutive guard found himself on the short end of the CBA’s Asian import rule. Expected to continue his large role within the team, Yu instead found himself backing up Jordanian star Osama Daghlas and averaging a career low 15.6 minutes per game. Deeply resentful of his diminished playing time, Yu went so far as to say this week that he would rather go back to school then play another season for Jilin. DongGuan had been linked with a move for Yu since the beginning of the off-season.

Now finally free of Jilin’s much-maligned practice of playing one guard at a time, Yu will finally have an opportunity to continue his development. His temporary transfer is an exciting move for Dongguan. Known for his long-term vision in developing players, Goorjian adds a significant piece to the team’s future while immediately bolstering a patchy guard rotation. All this, of course, is contingent on Jilin, which seems intent on keeping Yu in the long-term. Yu will continue to represent Jilin in the National Games next year, but this move for the club is questionable at best. Playing time for a National Team-caliber guard, an extremely young one with huge upside no less, should not be this hard to find. The fact that Yu felt alienated is a clear indictment against Jilin’s management and coaching. Dongguan has done well to capitalize on this shortsightedness to add a tremendous player.

The Leopards continue to look for help, and a potential backcourt partner for Yu has surfaced in Wang Dingjie, or James Wang, as he’s known stateside at Williams College. The Taiwanese native averaged 17.3 points on 56% shooting as he led the NCAA Division III squad to a 30-2 record. A strong player with nice offensive skills, Wang’s most troubling weakness is his height: he measures out at 6 feet, a tad small for a shooting guard. Dongguan has treated his four days in China as a sort of a scouting test, and will make a decision based on their evaluations.

These signings deviate little from Dongguan’s practices in the past: develop talented young players and integrate skilled foreign players within Goorjian’s plan. With Guangdong, Haislip showed willingness to defer to teammates and get his own shots within the flow of the offense, and will be commit to the offensive and defensive plans at Dongguan. Yu and Wang are guards with great upside that the team hopes will develop into a formidable starting backcourt.

Dongguan continues to kick off preparations for the new season today with a tournament in Shenzhen.

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CBA fans: A history of throwing stuff

March 14, 2012

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(Thanks to Beijing Cream for the video)

For all of the coverage and commentary that has flooded Chinese media since Sunday’s ugly scene in Taiyuan, it’s been the three words that were smugly offered by Beijing Ducks head coach, Min Lulei, that have stuck out to me the most (which can be seen at the very end of the above video):

Hen zheng chang.

This is normal.

Shady officiating? Been there, done that. Blocking of an opposing team’s bus? Check. Throwing stuff onto the floor? Yep and then some.

The latter is so common in fact, that by our count the league has either warned or fined teams no less than nine 10 times for fan behavior this season. Go ahead see for yourself. (Big tip of the cap to my xiongdimen at hoopCHINA, whose CBA News section — an indispensable resource for all you Chinese readers out there — was huge in searching up all of this.)

December 4, 2011: Unhappy with the officiating, fans throw lighters onto the court midway through Beijing and Xinjiang’s game at Shougang Gymnasium. Beijing is fined 10,000 RMB. In another game, Shandong is warned for their fans’ bad behavior.

December 11, 2011: Fujian is fined 70,000 RMB, Fujian foreign player, Will McDonald, is suspended for one game and Shanghai head coach, Dan Panaggio, is warned by the league after an on-court fracas in the game’s final seconds. With one second left, McDonald spat in Panaggio’s face while the two were having words in front of Shanghai’s bench. McDonald later alleged that Panaggio had cursed at him. Fujian’s fans responded by pelting Panaggio and the Shanghai team with objects as they left the court.

December 23, 2011: Shanxi is warned by the CBA after a water bottle is tossed onto the court midway through their Round 15 matchup against Liaoning.

December 30, 2011: Jilin is fined 10,000 RMB for their inability to control their fans and for their criticism of in-game officials at a post-game press conference.

January 1, 2012: Liaoning is fined 30,000 RMB after their fans throw water bottles and cups at the court during Liaoning’s Round 17 game against Beijing. On the CBA official report, the league calls out stadium security for not managing the situation well. Liaoning had been warned about fan behavior prior.

January 6, 2012: Fans inside Shougang Gymnasium hurl lighters at the court for the second time this season, and Beijing is fined RMB 20,000.

January 29, 2012: Fans in Tianjin throw things onto the court after J.R. Smith’s sister, Stephanie Smith, gets into a verbal altercation with fans during Zhejiang and Tianjin’s Round 27 matchup. The team is fined 10,000 RMB.

February 12, 2012: In Round 33, Shanxi is fined 20,000 RMB after their fans throw lighters onto the court midway through the third quarter in their game against Guangdong. They weren’t the only ones upset with the referees, however. Guangdong’s players aggressively confront a referee during the fourth quarter and head coach, Li Chunjiang, is publicly criticized by the league for not keeping his players under control.

March 2, 2012: Xinjiang is warned after fans throw lighters and other objects onto the court during Game 5 of their first-round series against DongGuan. According to the CBA’s official report, fans were unhappy with the way the game was being called by the referees.

March 4, 2012: Two days after being warned by the CBA, Xinjiang is fined 10,000 RMB after fans throw lighters and other objects onto the court in protest of a bad call during Game 1 of their first-round series against Guangdong.

Meanwhile, Shanxi has been fined 60,000 RMB for Sunday’s water bottle throwing contest as the investigation continues. Judging from all of the other fines already dished out this season, the fine should act as a really huge deterrent for fans in the future.

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CBA Round 34 Recap

February 16, 2012

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Beijing – 94 @ Guangsha – 114

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

Box Score

Qingdao – 101 @ Foshan – 107

Guangsha’s win put Qingdao’s late season playoff surge permanently to rest, but Qingdao ultimately buried themselves by losing their must-win game at Foshan. Marcus Douthit lead all Dralion scorers with 27 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Michael Maadanly had 25 points, 11 boards and three assists. Lester Hudson shot a miraculous 35 shots, 20 of which were threes, en route to 34 points. Hudson finishes the season as the CBA’s second leading scorer at 33.5 points per game.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

DongGuan – 114 @ Shanxi – 124

In the battle for third place, Shanxi were the ones who came away with the big win. Charles Gaines dominated with a 41 points, 10 rebound game; a performance only slightly more dominant than Marcus Williams’ 37 points and 10 rebounds. The win gives the Brave Dragons their first ever playoff matchup against Shanghai, while DongGuan will be matched up against Xinjiang.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Fujian – 79 Xinjiang – 104 

Tim Pickett played all 48 minutes and scored 42 points as the Flying Tigers made it a blowout by outscoring their opponent 32-15 in the fourth quarter. With the win, Xinjiang finishes the season in fourth place. Fujian drops to eighth.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Shanghai – 89 @ Tianjin – 85 

If there was ever a game that summed up the madness and drama of Chinese basketball, tonight was it. Shanghai got the victory- thanks to the uber-clutch Marcus Landry- but it was painfully close. However, what’s important now is that the boys from the Yuanshen are coming home with an 18-14 record before they return to north China to play the Shanxi Dragons in the first round of the playoffs.

As the game drifted into the final moments, the Sharks, having been down by around five points for most of the final quarter, suddenly burst into life and a splurge of well-taken opportunities brought Shanghai within a trey of the lead and Landry, lurking unmarked on the far left of the perimeter, had one more big shot left in the locker. Taking a couple of seconds to compose himself, the former New York Knick then dispatched his effort from downtown to give the Sharks an 86-85 lead with barely thirty seconds left.

When Zhang Nan failed his own moment of truth, the Lions had to give away cheap visits to the free-throw line to get the ball back. Harris converted both of his shots while Meng Lingyuan polished off his second effort and the Sharks were 89-85 winners at the death. Zhang Nan and Herve Lamizana both helped themselves to 22 points whilst Landry got 21 for Shanghai. Zhang Zhaoxu (19), Liu Wei (13), Mike Harris (12) and Liu Ziqiu (11), also made double-digit hauls.

Andrew Crawford

Box Score

Bayi – 91 @ Guangdong – 92

Guangdong added on to Bayi’s historically miserable season by doling out their franchise worst 22 loss of the season. Aaron Brooks played only six minutes, andJames Singleton played well below his normal burn with 24 minutes. Singleton managed 26 points and 12 boards, anyways.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Liaoning – 103 @ Zhejiang – 90

J.R. Smith’s last game in China ended with 25 points, 11 boards and another L as Liaoning was able to come up with a rare win away from home.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Jilin – 127 @ Jiangsu – 142

Jon Pastuszek

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CBA Round 30 Recap

February 8, 2012

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DongGuan – 97 @ Guangdong – 111

Aaron Brooks put in 24 points, James Singleton went off for 20 points and 19 rebounds, and Zhu Fangyu scored 23 as the Southern Tigers took care of business in the second leg of their annual DongGuan derby match against the Leopards. It’s the Southern Tigers’ 11th straight win.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Shanghai – 89 @ Bayi – 77

The Shanghai Sharks came roaring back from their two recent losses on the road with a commanding victory over the Bayi Rockets. The once all-conquering powerhouse of Chinese basketball looked a frail version of their former selves and a young, confident Sharks side dismantled their guests with ease. With other results going their way, the Sharks now move up to seventh place in the CBA table as the season continues to go down to the wire.

Marcus Landry was putting on a show towards the end of the game and threw down a couple of thunderous dunks, Meng Lingyuan popped up with a nice lay-up and Liu drilled home a couple of jump shots to keep the tempo going but as a competition the game looked wrapped up by the start of the fourth quarter. There was still time for Xu Zhonghao to confirm that his IQ is lower than his jersey number when he needlessly blindsided the considerably smaller Meng with seven seconds left on the clock. As the guard lay prone on the floor, Mike Harris looked like he wished he could do more than point to the scoreboard and look pissed, but the game was done. Meng eventually got to his feet, the buzzer rang and the Sharks were 89-77 victors.

Landry scored a game-high 22 points whilst Harris (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Zhang Zhaoxu (11 points, 15 rebounds) both picked up double-doubles in a result that Coach Panaggio called ‘a very good game against a very good and well coached team’. For Bayi, Wang Zhizhi scored 20 points.Taking the time to praise his team, Panaggio also praised the defensive work of Liu Ziqiu for keeping Bayi at bay. When asked about Wednesday’s critical match, the Sharks’ coach was brief and direct; ‘We’ve got a very big game against [Zhejiang Bulls]‘; ‘they are in a battle for a playoff spot as are we. There are no room for slip ups’.

Andrew Crawford

Box Score

Foshan – 111 @ Zhejiang – 107

The Golden Bulls are hanging onto their playoff lives after becoming only the fifth team to lose at Foshan this season. J.R. Smith once again put up a huge scoring output with 41 points, but as has been the pattern recently, huge individual tallies haven’t been adding up in the win column. Michael Maadanly 34 points and five rebounds and Marcus Haislip had 31 and 10 to lead the Dralions to their seventh win of the season.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Liaoning – 95 @ Fujian – 120

Will McDonald continued his case for NiuBBall All-CBA First Team with a dominant 36 point, 17 rebound performance against Liaoning. Losers of their last three, Liaoning are now out of the playoffs, while Fujian sits in sole control of fifth. Liaoning’s Han Dejun had 20 points and 14 boards for the losers, who were unable to get past Rodney Carney’s 3-14 performance from three.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Guangsha – 100 @ Shanxi – 107

Guangsha is now unbelievably out of the playoffs. Like they have all year, Shanxi relied on its foreign duo of Charles Gaines (28 points, 14 rebounds) and Marcus Williams (27 points, four rebounds, six assists) to beat a desperate Guangsha team who is still searching for answers to what is now a 2-9 streak. Wilson Chandler had 22 points and seven boards, but was once again not aggressive getting into the lane as he finished with only one free-throw attempt. P.J. Ramos played well with 32 and 17.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Beijing – 102 @ Qingdao – 114

Qingdao’s Li Gen scored a career high 41 points and Lester Hudson stuffed the stat sheet with 39-7-10 as Qingdao took down the Ducks at home. The result won’t really affect anything — Beijing pretty much has the No. 2 spot locked up, while Qingdao would need to win their last three and get some help in the standings to make the playoffs.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Xinjiang – 99 @ Jilin – 97

Xinjiang picked up a crucial win that improved their chances of making the post-season after getting third road win of the season against Jilin. The visitors overcame a tough shooting night by Tim Pickett through balanced scoring, as five different players scored in double-figures. Gani Lawal had 21 points and nine rebounds and Tang Zhengdong had 17 and seven, including a crucial tip in down the stretch to secure the win.

Cartier Martin went off for 30 second half points after only hitting for four in the first half.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Jiangsu – 99 @ Shandong – 102

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CBA Round 29 Recap

February 5, 2012

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Guangsha – 69 @  Xinjiang – 99

Once towards the top of the standings, is Guangsha even going to make the playoffs? That’s the question after the Lions were blown out in Urumqi on Friday. After rebounding with a strong game in Round 28, Wilson Chandler reverted back to passively shooting jump shots, finishing 4-16 for 10 points.

The game was never close. Xinjiang’s Tim Pickett got off to a hot start and continued to stay aggressive on offense, scoring 35 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Gani Lawal contributed with 15 points and eight boards and Mengke Bateer put in 15. The win is Xinjiang’s fourth straight and puts them in seventh place, while Guangsha drops to sixth.

Guangsha feeds of Chandler, who when he wants to be is the toughest individual matchup in the league. However, a long-term NBA deal likely on the table whenever he returns to the NBA, Chandler’s priority appears to lie within maintaining his health in preparation for his big payday.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Shanghai – 108 @ Shanxi – 119

The Shanghai Sharks came, they saw, they got lit up. Shanxi’s high scoring duo of Marcus Williams and Charles Gaines did exactly what their guests were hoping they wouldn’t and blew Shanghai away with some red-hot shooting. After a plucky first half from the Sharks, the Shanxi Brave Dragons’ demolition men coolly stepped up a gear and promptly ripped the Sharks asunder with a devastating final twenty minutes of huge threes, marauding drives to the basket and some deft low post action. It was not pleasant viewing for a Shanghai fan.

Although the Sharks limped their way over the hundred-point mark themselves, the margin of defeat was telling and the visitors now make their way back to Shanghai after eventually losing 119-108 to a rampant Shanxi team that is almost certainly bound for the playoffs. Williams finished on 44 points, Gaines got 37 of his own whilst Ren Junhui’s 11 points meant he also got in on the double-digit party for Shanxi.

Meanwhile Mike Harris picked up a double-double of 37 points and 12 rebounds for Shanghai, Marcus Landry got 23 points and Liu Ziqiu continued his quiet resurgence with a gutsy 14 points but the Sharks now have to win four from their final five games to have any chance of making it to the postseason. Tough times just become a lot tougher.

Andrew Crawford

Box Score

Liaoning – 94 @ DongGuan – 107

DongGuan got 35 points and 16 boards from Shavlik Randolph and Josh Akognon had 27 as they beat visiting Liaoning by 13 at home. Thanks to Randolph’s activity in the frontcourt, DongGuan went +7 on the offensive glass and forced the visiting squad into 10-27 from the three-point line. The Jaguars, who have won just two road games the whole year, got nothing out of Josh Powell, who played only 16 minutes, picking up four points and three rebounds. At 14-13, they have put themselves out of the playoff picture and could slip further if they lose tonight at Fujian.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Shandong – 115 @ Zhejiang – 121 (OT)

Alan Anderson shot an amazing 42 shots to tally 54 points, but his individual shootaround wasn’t enough for Shandong to come up with the win. J.R. Smith shot 29 shots to get 41, but Zhejiang’s balanced support in Josh Boone (19 points), Ding Jinhui (15) and Chang Chunjun (13).

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Jilin – 96 @ Fujian – 109 

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Tianjin – 112 @ Beijing – 122

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Qingdao – 97 @ Jiangsu – 92

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Bayi – 116 @ Foshan – 106

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CBA Round 28 Reacp

February 3, 2012

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Qingdao – 110 @ Zhejiang – 122

 

J.R. Smith scored 60 points and broke a CBA single-game record with 14 threes. I’ll let the video to the rest of the talking.

Jon Pastuszek

Fujian – 132 @ Guangsha – 125 (2 OT)

Wilson Chandler’s 36-21 wasn’t enough to keep visiting Fujian from getting a much needed split on their Shanghai-Guangsha road trip to keep their playoff hopes very much alive. Zaid Abbas, Will McDonald, Anthony Roberson and Gong Songlin combined for an insane 121 points as only Zhou Qixin and Yang Genglin were the only other two players to score.

11-loss Guangsha now faces a critical road test at Xinjiang on Friday. A win will put them squarely in mess that is the CBA playoff race, a win will give them some breathing space.

Jon Pastuszek

Shanghai – 84 @ Xinjiang – 89

A Shanghai Sharks team got close but couldn’t win against a Xinjiang Flying Tigers side that showed flashes of real talent and menace but also looked brittle at times. Having stayed with the Flying Tigers throughout the game, a crucial ninety seconds decided everything. Firstly, Shanghai’s Mike Harris fouled out and Mengke Bateer converted his second free-throw from the foul to make the scores 82-82. A clutch three from Xirelijiang and then a lay-up form Shanghai’s Zhang Zhaoxu made it 85-84. With 17 seconds on the clock, the Sharks then managed to turn the ball over not once but twice and the Tigers confirmed victory in farcical fashion and that frankly was a little harsh on a visiting side that played with 100% effort.

Lawal scored 19 points and picked up 15 rebounds whilst Picket also got a 15 point, 12 rebound double-double. For Shanghai, Landry got a game high 20 points, Harris made 15 and Zhang got 10.

A tough loss for the Sharks mean that they fall out of the post-season places with another tricky away game (Shanxi Dragons) waiting for them on Friday. (What’s worse is that they’ve lost the tiebreaker to Xinjiang — their head-to-head record is even, but their head-to-head point differential, Xinjiang +1, gives them the edge in the event that they finish with the same record. You can thank that last steal by Pickett on Liu Ziqiu for that one. — Jon) Shanghai will need to regroup and play with the same zest against the Dragons that they showed in Urumqi if they are to have a shot at keeping their playoff dreams alive.

Andrew Crawford

Liaoning – 108 @ Guangdong – 122

34 points from Aaron Brooks and 28 from James Singleton gave the Southern Tigers a rare game of total import dominance, as the only Chinese players to check in with double figures were Zhou Peng and Zhu Fangyu. It’s Guangdong’s 10th straight win.

Jon Pastuszek

Jilin – 98 @ DongGuan – 120

Jilin makes it 0-2 on what will soon be an 0-3 Guangdong-DongGuan-Fujain road trip as they start to plan their spring off-season. And hey, maybe Jilin knows that more than we do — Cartier Martin only played 14 minutes and Osama Dahglas played 10. Wait, did I say off-season? I mean months and months of burning out their bodies with mindless practices. For the Chinese players.

DongGuan’s Josh Akognon continues his hot post-Spring Festival break with 31 points. If he stays hot, DongGuan will be a tougher team to beat come playoff time.

Jon Pastuszek

Shandong – 87 @ Bayi – 107

Foshan – 115 @ Shanxi – 129

Jiangsu – 99 @ Tianjin – 105

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CBA Round 27 Recap

January 31, 2012

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Fujian – 90 @ Shanghai – 94

A nervy Shanghai Sharks held on to beat the Fujian Sturgeons after a flurry of clutch three pointers pulled the home side away from danger in the closing seconds of the game. Anthony Roberson was a constant menace for the visitors and lit up the Sharks at times in the second half. A commanding performance from Liu Wei and some gutsy three-pointers from Wang Yong were critical to giving the Sharks victory but this was a game that could have gone either way in the crucial stages but for once, the luck was with Shanghai.

Roberson scored a game high 39 points that included 7 three-pointers, whilst Zaid Abbas (17 points, 16 rebounds) and Will McDonald (17 points, 11 rebounds) got themselves double-doubles. For Shanghai, both Liu and Mike Harris made 20 points, whilst Wang got 15, Marcus Landry scored 13 and Zhang Zhaoxu got 10 in an evening of high drama.

A relieved Coach Panaggio was happy with a tight victory but knows that away games against Xinjiang and Shanxi are coming round the corner and that his side can’t relax for even a second. ‘I’m very happy with the win but we were somewhat lucky’, he noted in a concise press conference. With the squad still adjusting to the loss of Ryan Forehan-Kelly, the Sharks’ boss was also quick to praise a number of players who have stepped up since the forward injured himself in December, particularly Liu Ziqui, who had a strong defensive game and made the crucial shot to ensure victory for the Sharks; ‘we’re a better team when he’s playing at the level he’s at [right now]‘. The Sharks’ will need all the big contributions they can get now that the post season is getting closer and closer.

Andrew Crawford

Box Score

DongGuan -109 @ Guangsha – 114

The battle of third and fourth place ended with a big home win by Guangsha thanks to a bounceback 28 point, 10 rebound effort by Wilson Chandler. Jin Lipeng, coming off his usual spot on the bench, had a much improved 18 point performance, while Lin Chih-chieh cashed in 23. P.J. Ramos clocked in with a double-double – 21 points and 11 rebounds.

Josh Akognon went off for 40 points, Shavlik Randolph had 29 points and eight rebounds.

With the win, Guangsha is now even with DongGuan in the loss column. But because DongGuan has a larger head-to-head point differential, they own the tiebreaker in the event that both teams finish the year with the same record.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Zhejiang – 104 @ Tianjin – 112

In a shock upset, 14th placed Tianjin took out J.R. Smith and the Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls. In his first game for Tianjin, newly signed Herve Lamizana thrashed the visitors for 37 points and 12 boards. Donnell Harvey also got into the 30-10 act with 34 points and 12 rebounds.

J.R. Smith went for 37 points on a staggering 19-22 from the free-throw line, but once again it was his sister, Stephanie, who stole the show. Midway through the third quarter, she got into it with several Tianjin fans and before finally exiting, threw up two middle fingers to the entire stadium.

Zhejiang has now lost six out their last eight are currently out of playoffs sitting in ninth place.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Jiangsu – 97 @ Beijing – 116

Jiangsu remains winless on the road and Beijing continues to take steps to lock up the No. 2 seed with plenty of time to spare in the 2011-12 season. Zhai Xiaochuan set a career high with 25 points, a nice accomplishment that was only made nicer by the 12 rebounds he snagged. As they have for most of the year, Beijing got it done with balanced scoring as five players put in double-digit point totals.

Still on the shelf with injuries, Chen Lei an Lee Hsueh-lin did not play. But their returns are expected within a week or two and when they do finally hit the court, they’ll give the Ducks a much needed boost in depth that they sorely lack at the moment.

Box Score

Shanxi – 110 @ Shandong – 125

The Brave Dragons’ Year of the Dragon got off to a terrible start in Shandong after they lost in convincing fashion to team all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. In one of the rare games where you’ll see both teams trot out an all Chinese lineup for the first quarter, Shanxi went into the intermission down 16 points before scurrying into the locker room at halftime down 25. Shandong’s Wu Ke, who is averaging 8.5 points on the season, looked like a superstar with a highly efficient 25 points on 7-11 shooting and 13 rebounds. Alan Anderson had 21 and Othello Hunter pitched with a double-double of 19 and 12.

Jon Pastuzsek

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Foshan – 94 @ Xinjiang – 103

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Jilin – 94 @ Guangdong – 107

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Qingdao – 103 @ Bayi – 91

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Breaking down the CBA playoff picture

January 28, 2012

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Zhejiang Chouzhou’s success will depend on whether or not J.R. Smith is still committed to playing at high level in the Chinese Basketball Association (Photo: Osports, via Sina Sports)

Let’s reflect for a moment on what we’re doing here right now. You’re about to read a post about the very complicated, very indistict Chinese Basketball Association playoff picture. That in and of itself is a huge accomplishment. Why? Never, and I mean never has the CBA enjoyed this much parity down the standings, and never have we seen a finish that we’re about to see starting tomorrow: Seven playoff spots up fo grabs with 11 teams in legitimate contention to fill them up.

Starting with Beijing, who at 17-8 currently sits in the No. 2 position, and going all the way down to Jilin, who’s at 11-13 occupying the No. 11 spot, more than half the league will be gunning for the post-season with eight rounds to go. Like I said, that’s just nuts for a league whose final standings can be predicted with stunning accuracy up to six months before the start of the season.

Making things even crazier, everyone pretty much has the same record right now. Only three games in the loss column separate DongGuan (16-9, third place) and Xinjiang (12-12, 10th place), which means that tiebreakers like head-to-head records and head-to-head point differentials will most definitely come into play by the time we hit Round 34. Added to all of the positional jockeying that will be going down in an attempt to avoid Guangdong in the semi-finals, and we should have a highly refreshing, exciting and unpredictable race to the finish.

To help you sort though the madness, NiuBBall is breaking down the post-Spring Festival break schedule while also providing predictions that will likely end up being very wrong.

1. Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers (21-4)
Remaining Games: Jilin, Liaoning, at DongGuan, Fujian, at Xinjiang, at Shanxi, Bayi

After losing to J.R. Smith and Zhejiang on December 30th, the Southern Tigers have reeled off eight straight wins to put some major distance between themselves and the rest of the pack. They’ve already clinched a playoff birth, and barring something as catastrophic as the 2012 Mayan Armageddon, they’ll have the No. 1 seed wrapped up with plenty of games to spare. No prediction needed here.

2. Beijing Shougang Ducks (17-8)
Remaining Games: Jiangsu, Tianjin, at Qingdao, at Shandong, Foshan, Shanghai, at Guangsha

The Ducks ran off 13 straight wins to start the year before proceeding to lose eight of their next 12. Yet despite the midseason slip-up, the Ducks are in excellent shape to hold onto their No. 2 spot. Their next five games, three of which are at home, are all against non-playoff teams. Even better, three of those five teams, Jiangsu, Tianjin and Foshan, have the three of the worst records in the CBA.

The Ducks wil also be boosted by the return of Taiwanese point guard, Lee Huseh-lin, who is practicing for the first time since hurting his lower back on December 9th. Lee is a key player for head coach Min Lulei — Playing off the bench this year with Stephon Marbury dominating the point, Lee is the only other guard who is able to take some of the ball handling duties away from their star import. There’s still no timetable on Lee’s return, but it appears as he’s well on his way back onto the court.

Prediction: 23-9, No. 2 seed

3. DongGuan New Century Leopards (16-9)
Games Remaining
: at Guangsha, Jilin, Liaoning, Guangdong, Fujian, at Xinjiang, at Shanxi

DongGuan goes back to work after their Year of the Dragon vacation with a visit to the notoriously unfriendly confines of Guangsha Hangzhou Stadium, where the visiting team has walked away with a win only three times this year. It’s a huge game because the winner will put themselves in pole position for the much coveted No. 3 spot, which guarantees that a playoffs matchup with Guangdong will come in the Finals.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Leopards afterwards — five of their last seven are against teams with winning records, and the other two, Jilin and Xinjiang, are teams on the cusp of a playoff spot. If DongGuan can lock up a top two position, nobody can say they didn’t earn it. After starting the year 0-4, third place is impressive. But when you consider that they’ve only beaten five teams with winning records this year, a drop in the standings looks to be the most probable outcome.

Prediction: 20-12, No. 4 seed

4. Zhejiang Guangsha Lions (14-10)
Games Remaining
: DongGuan, Fujian, at Xinjiang, at Shanxi, Bayi, Zhejiang, at Jiangsu, Beijing

Considered a potential contender to Guangdong’s throne just three weeks ago, the Lions have dropped six of their last seven, including loses to Foshan, Qingdao and Jilin. Much of that is on the shoulders of Wilson Chandler, who has scored 15.8 points per game over his last four. When Chandler is motivated, there’s not a more versatile player in this league. But the challenge for Guangsha all season has been maintaining a balance between him and the rest of the Chinese squad. Lin Chih-chieh, who put in 15.5 points a game last year, has seen his scoring drop to 11. Jin Lipeng is the only other domestic player to average double figures.

When Guangsha was winning, Chandler was content to let P.J. Ramos and his other teammates share the heavy lifting on offense for the first three quarters before taking over in the fourth. It was a good recipe when Chandler was up to the task. But when he’s coasting and content to throw up jump shots (33 three point attempts over his last five, 14 free-throw attempts over his last four), Guangsha is a highly beatable team.

Unlike most other imports, Chandler, like his inter-province NBA-to-CBAer, J.R. Smith, is heading back to a big payday in the NBA after the season is over. Long-term, this season will not affect anything he does in the NBA as long as he stays healthy. Whether it’s this season or next, Chandler will receive a lucrative multi-year offer from a wing-needy NBA team. That point is something to keep in mind as we close the season — if he’s already decided to play to not get hurt, then Guangsha’s chances at the No. 2 position have taken a big hit. The next few games should be a telling sign as to how dedicated Chandler is to finishing out the CBA season strong.

Guangsha hosts DongGuan tomorrow in the game of Round 26. DongGuan won the first match-up earlier in the year in DongGuan. Guangsha will have to win and win by more than the seven points they were beaten by if they’re to hold the tiebreaker against their opponents — something that will come in handy in sidestepping Guangdong in the semis if the two squads finish with the same record at the end of the year. Behind a rejuvenated Chandler playing at home, Guangsha gets a double-digit win and a leg up on the third seed.

Prediction: 20-12, No. 3 seed

5. Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons (14-10)
Games Remaining
: at Shandong, Foshan, Shanghai, Guangsha, at Jilin, at Liaoning, Guangdong, DongGuan

The good news for Shanxi: They’re four games over .500 and are in good position to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The bad news: It’s the Year of the Dragon, which means its the Brave Dragons ben ming nian, their Zodiac year, a year that is associated with very bad luck.

Wearing red underwear (or red Under Armour, if you’re a ball player) is one way, according to Chinese tradition, to help off-set the inauspiciousness of your Zodiac year. But for the Brave Dragons, taking care of business right away tomorrow night at Shandong would be the best way. Because after a game against Foshan at home, the schedule toughens up big time. Shanxi’s five of their last six are against teams they lost to earlier in the year. A trip to Liaoning before a home match-up against Guangdong is their most dangerous stretch, because it sets up an all important final game of the year against DongGuan. A three-game losing streak to cap off the year would not be a good way to go about securing that playoff spot.

One guy Shanxi will be counting on to avoid that fate: Marcus Williams. As a trusted CBA confidant dutifully reminded me this week, Williams needs to be included in any NiuBBall MVP talk from now on. Truth is though, he’s been on the short list for a while. 30.5 points, 4.5 rebounds 3.8 assists and 2.3 steals on a 14-10 squad is more than enough to earn that right, even despite the fact that he is most definitely not shooting 69.4% from three. Or 82.4% for that matter. They’ll need him, along with Charles Gaines, to come up with some big performances if the squad is to ward off the dreaded Chinese ben ming nian, and the clump of teams behind them.

Prediction: 18-14, No. 5 seed

6. Liaoning Hengye Jaguars (14-11)
Games Remaining
: at Guangdong, at DongGuan, at Fujian, Xinjiang, Shanxi, at Bayi, at Zhejiang

Liaoning is a team that should be way better than they are. Perhaps other than Guangdong, the Jaguars have the most talented group of Chinese players in the league. Li Xiaoxu, Guo Ailun, Zhang Qingpeng and Yang Ming have all played for the Chinese National Team, while center Han Dejun received an invite to camp last spring. Sensing that there was more to be had from this team, management went ahead and fired favorite son, Guo Shiqiang, from his position as head coach shortly before Christmas. Under the leadership of Li Ge, who was promoted from assistant, Liaoning has gone 7-4 to climb their way into sixth place.

The entire team has been playing better, but it’s been Han whose seen the most improvement. He’s put up 14.5 points and 8.6 boards on 61% shooting under Li, including a 30-20 game that saw him shoot 12-12 from the field and 6-8 from the free-throw line. With Josh Powell struggling so much that the team was seriously considering making a switch, Han’s emergence has been a key development in Northeast China.

Unfortunately however, the way their late season schedule has developed is not a good sign for their playoff hopes. With only two road wins all year, Liaoning is faced with the worrisome predicament of playing five of their last seven away from home. Right away, they’ll head on the road for the annual Southeast China triangle-of-death trip that will see them play Guangdong, DongGuan and Fujian before coming home for two tough ones against Xinjiang and Shanxi. Bayi at home looks to be the only slam dunk of their remaining schedule, which means that in order for them to keep their grasp on a playoff spot, they’ll have to take care of some business on the road. And that’s unlikely to happen.

Prediction: 16-16, out of the playoffs

7. Fujian SBS Sturgeons (14-11)
Games Remaining
: at Shanghai, at Guangsha, Jilin, Liaoning, at Guangdong, at DongGuan, at Xinjiang

Five on seven on the road screams “out of the playoffs,” but let’s break this down for a second: Jilin and Liaoning have won a combined three road games all year; there’s a good chance they win against both teams. A huge game hangs in the balance tomorrow night at Shanghai, a team who like themselves cannot afford any slip-ups at home this late in the season. Something tells us that in his Shanghai return, Zaid Abbas, has something for his old squad. Another road win, in combination with two wins at home, would put Fujian at 18-14, and as Abbas’ third playoff team in as many years, joining Shanghai and Beijing.

Prediction: 18-14, No. 6 seed

8. Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls (13-11)
Games Remaining
: at Tianjin, Qingdao, Shandong, at Foshan, at Shanghai, at Guangsha, Jilin, Liaoning

Even if J.R. Smith has lost his love for the game, it still doesn’t hide the fact that Zhejiang’s remaining schedule is cupcake soft. Even if the Golden Bulls survive a random explosion by Qingdao’s Lester Hudson, not a given by the way, they’ve got three other games against some of the league’s worst teams, Tianjin, Foshan and Shandong. The Golden Bulls will get their haul of wins over the next eight games.

How many they get beyond the games that they should win (at Shanghai, at Guangsha) will depend solely on that guy J.R. The entire league has been mesmerized by his entertainment on the court as well as off the court. So have his teammates, who have reverted to their early season ways of standing around on offense to watch the show. In his last two games, losses to Xinjiang and Beijing, J.R. has racked up a mere one assist. When J.R. is passing, this is a tough team to beat because it’s hard to keep him out of the paint. But like with Wilson, J.R. may have already put his mind and his full basketball repertoire back in the U.S. to prepare for his NBA return in March. That story line, at least to me, remains as the most interesting backdrop to this mad rush to the post-season.

Prediction: 18-14, No. 8 seed

9. Shanghai Dongfang Sharks (13-11)
Games Remaining: Fujian, at Xinjiang, at Shanxi, Bayi, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, at Beijing, at Tianjin 

No team other than Xinjiang was devastated as much by injury this year than Shanghai. He never put up insane scoring numbers, but the all-around consistency and offensive awareness of Ryan Forehan-Kelly, to us, was the main reason why Shanghai bucked a NiuBBall bottom four pre-season prognostication. With his familiarity of Dan Pannagio’s triangle offense, Forehan-Kelly fit seamlessly into the Sharks new offense. Marcus Landry, a capable player, has done solid in replacement, but isn’t an ideal fit for the triangle because of his inconsistent stroke from the outside.

The loss of RFK, plus more road games than they have home and I don’t see this team going anywhere over 4-4 over their last eight, which puts them out of the playoff picture.

Prediction: 17-15, out of the playoffs

10. Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers (12-12)
Remaining Games
: Foshan, Shanghai, Guangsha, at Liaoning, at Jilin, DongGuan, Guangdong, Fujian

I mentioned DongGuan only has five wins against teams with winning records, so therefore I have to bring up the humiliating fact that the Flying Tigers, runners-up the last three years, have beaten a mere three teams with over-.500 records. Oh, and that they’ve only won three road games all year. I guess that’s what US $10 mil buys you in Urumqi.

But no matter how disastrous this season has been, Xinjiang finds itself in good position to get into the playoffs. Their six home games to close the year is the most of out of any team in the league and with a home record of 9-1, they’ve got a chance to start piling up some wins. A loss against Guangdong in Round 31 is likely, so at least a split on their Liaoning-Jilin road trip will be needed if they’re to get into the No. 6 spot — another piece of prime real estate in the standings because it avoids Guangdong until the finals.

If Gani Lawal and Tim Pickett keep putting up the numbers and they can some sort of production from either Mengke Bateer or Tang Zhengdong, Xinjiang will find themselves in the post-season. The fact that I even have to write that, however, underlines what a miserable season it’s been for a team that thought of themselves as championship material.

Prediction:  18-14, No. 7 seed

11. Jilin GBT Northeast Tigers (11-13)
Games Remaining
: at Guangdong, at DongGuan, at Fujian, Xinjiang, Shanxi, at Zhejiang, at Jiangsu

How does an 0-3 start to the New Year sound? Sounds a lot like racking up mahjong tiles, which will be exactly what the Northeast Tigers, the Chinese ones at least, will be doing when they’re sitting at their houses in early March.

Prediction: 12-18, out of the playoffs

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NiuBBall Water Cooler/Heater: Play-Offs, CBA All-Stars And The Magic Of Marbury

January 26, 2012

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The NiuBBall water cooler/heater: Where you can chat with friends about hoops while sipping either hot or cold water.

This chat originally appeared on Shark Fin Hoops.

With regular web-chatter, Ned Bothfeld out of the country, the man behind NiuBBall, Jon Pastuszek, makes his long awaited debut at the water cooler to talk CBA playoffs, potential All-Star snubs and Stephon Marbury. As always, our Chinese water dispensers are equipped with hot and cold water. 

Andrew Crawford: We should probably start by talking about the previous round of games and there were obviously more than a few crackers. The most eye catching one for me was Beijing’s win over Zhejiang- a 45 pt/10 ast/ 12 rbd triple double from Marbury and JR Smith’s 39 pts. What did you make of that game?

Jon Pastuszek: It was one of the most anticipated games of the season — Marbury is beloved by almost every Chinese hoops fan from Beijing to Urumqi, and J.R. has gained a sizeable following himself due to his on-court offensive explosions and off-court drama. Not surprisingly, they’re number one and two respectively in All-Star voting but Marbury showed why he’s clearly the better player in this league. For me, his triple-double solidified himself as the top choice for league MVP this year. He’s been able to balance his role as both a distributor and scorer almost perfectly this year, sharing the ball early in the ball game and taking games over himself when he needs to down the stretch. He’s changed the entire Duck culture this season, taking what was barely a playoff team with a lackluster fan base and turning it into one of the hottest tickets in town this year.

AC: That’s very true. In our first webchat, me and Ned talked about the star power of Marbury and how he has endeared himself to the different Chinese fanbases. On the other hand, it has felt like a circus at times with Smith, do you think how he has settled in China, in spite of his huge numbers, has affected his game; could he be even better with a different set-up?

JP: I’ve always felt that it’s not so much a player’s individual talent that determines success in the CBA, but rather a player’s individual make-up. For many reasons — the coaching, the travel, the food, the officiating, the media, the living conditions, the quality of one’s teammates — a lot of players fail to adapt to the differences between the CBA, the NBA and even Europe. As we’ve learned from the countless numbers of foreign players who have left China prematurely in years past, it’s not easy to play here. Individual and team success is by no means guaranteed, no matter how good the player. Taking on an NBA player who’s played in the league for several years, like J.R., is a challenge for CBA teams. China is not the United States, and Yiwu is certainly not Denver — I think the Bulls management has tried to make J.R. comfortable, allowing his sister to live with him and bringing in an American assistant to ease the on-court transition, but at the end of the day you’re never going to replicate the NBA lifestyle while playing in China.

AC: All very true. I’ve think that’s part of the fascinating thing about international players and the mindset they need to have to succeed in some of the more unorthodox basketball leagues. Ned was saying last time around that PJ Ramos loves it in China and wouldn’t want to go back to the NBA. Equally, Mike Harris in Shanghai, clearly adores being in Shanghai. Still, regardless of the JR drama, I’ll be looking forward to the Bulls’ visit next month so I can see the man in person.

Moving on, Guangdong has handled their business by beating Wilson Chandler, Ramos et al. in Hangzhou. After a shaky start, is there a better team in the CBA right now?

JP: No. Guangdong is the hands-down favorite to win the title this year, and I see no team that is even close to giving them a problem come March.

AC: Their form is so good that I can see them resting Aaron Brooks, Zhu Fangyu, James Singleton, etc with a couple of games to spare. That eighth play-off place is a real poisoned chalice now because you’ll probably be facing a box-fresh Guangdong side after you’ve just spent the last few weeks battling your way to the post season.

JP: I could definitely see that too. In fact, they’ve already been resting their guys during the season, playing sometimes up to 11 guys in a game in order to keep their stars fresh for the post-season. Last year, when they went through a solid chunk of the season without a full import roster, proved that Guangdong doesn’t really need to tear through the regular season and play their best players for long periods of time. For them, it’s all about staying healthy for a Finals run and since nobody has been able match-up with all of their Chinese talent in a five or seven games series over the last eight years, its hard to argue with that strategy.

AC: Indeed. Guangdong’s opponents in the final last year, Xinjiang, had another set back with a loss with Shandong. They’ve got a tricky last few games coming up. What do you think the mood is like there in Urumqi and can they save their season?

JP: Xinjiang has been without a doubt the most disappointing team of the year. This is a team that went 31-1 last season and yet still didn’t win a championship. After spending close to US $10 million this summer on the 2000 NBA Draft number one overall pick and 11 year NBA-pro Kenyon Martin, Chinese Men’s National Team head coach Bob Donewald Jr. and three-time CBA MVP Tang Zhengdong among others, the expectation was that they’d storm their way past Guangdong to a title. But Donewald was fired 11 games into the year, K-Mart followed him out the door quickly and Tang hasn’t been able to find his dominating form. Simply, at 12-12, the season has been a disaster. Once the favorites for a championship, the Flying Tigers are now fighting for a playoff spot. Six of their last eight are at home, so their destiny is in their own hands, but the mood is obviously not a very optimistic one in Urumqi.

AC: We’ve touched on the play-offs so we might as well wade right into the matter itself. Looking at the table right now, Guangdong look like they’ve got their place in the bag and Beijing should be okay with their run of games at home but after that, it’s a scramble for six places between eight, possibly ten teams. Who do you think are the strongest teams coming into this final push?

JP: It’s certainly going to be a crazy end to the season, isn’t it? It’s going to come down to whoever takes care of business at home. It’s always been tough to win on the road in the CBA but this year the discrepancy between home and away records have been even more profound. Only two teams, Beijing and Guangdong, have winning road records this season. As I mentioned before, Xinjiang has six of their last eight at home, and that will be big as they’ve only lost once all year in Urumqi. Guangsha also has a bunch of home games coming up. If they can sort out their problems during Spring Festival, they should be in good position to get a top four seed.

AC: Shanghai are in the same situation with regards to having the majority of their games at home. We have Fujian and Zhejiang in the Yuanshen, and these are going to be HUGE games and ones the Sharks certainly can’t afford to lose. Home advantage is certainly key here as we’ve also got Xinjiang, Shanxi and Beijing on the road, which is going to be tough for us. It’s too close to call here in Shanghai and there’s going to be a lot riding on Harris and Marcus Landry going down the stretch. Indeed, who do you think isn’t going to make it in the end?

JP: Well unfortunately for you, I think it’s going to be tough for the Sharks to hang onto their playoff spot. The loss of Ryan Forehan-Kelly, who was on my shortlist for MVP before getting hurt, is tough because he’s the one who kept their triangle offense nice and congruent. Marcus Landry has been decent in replacement, but he’s not a player built for the triangle. They’ve got those tough games against Zhejiang, Xinjiang, Beijing and Shanxi — maybe they’ll prove me wrong, but I don’t see them winning a lot of games post-Chinese New Year. Fujian may be another squad that falls short, they have five of their last seven on the road, including a three-game finale that takes them to Guangdong, DongGuan and Xinjiang.It’s going to be a wild finish, every game will count, which is why taking care of business at home will be so important.

AC: For sure. The RFK point is a massive one. He did everything like you said and the little things like setting the pace of the game and being a calming influence in a young team; those are all tough things to replace. I think the consensus is that Fujian won’t make it- that run of games in the last week is an absolute killer. I can also see Zhejiang crumbling under the pressure, but that’s just a feeling.

Anyway, All-Star week coming up. Marbury and Smith are the top choices as we speak but is there anyone who isn’t getting the recognition they deserve? Osama Dahglas is probably pissed at being in the same division as Marbury because I thought the Jilin PG has been pretty good this season but its highly unlikely he’ll be in the team.

JP: With the CBA only limiting two foreign players to each All-Star team, there’s always going to be snubs. Dahglas is certainly a guy who could be put in that category. Another could be either Marcus Williams or Lester Hudson, each whom have had very nice seasons for their teams. J.R. and Marbury are the obvious shoe-ins, Wilson Chandler will probably get in as a reserve, so that leaves just one player left. Somebody will definitely get left out.

AC: For sure; Harris, Singleton, Brooks, Zaid Abbas and Shavlik Randolph to name but a few. I guess that brings me onto my next point. If I’m Chandler or Smith, do I risk playing even one more game than I need to if I’m looking for an NBA contract when the CBA ends in March? I guess this would be extra pertinent if their team didn’t make the play-offs?

JP: Certainly, both of those guys are looking at the big picture. At the end of the CBA season, they’ll head back to the NBA where they will be prize commodities to teams looking to add a piece for a playoff run. They both stand to make a lot of money on long-term deals, if not this season then definitely next year. Since neither player have gotten their so-called “big payday” yet, I’m sure they’re anticipating going back to the States and cashing in. Both have substantial money at stake, so the last thing either them wants is to get hurt. So I think you have to take that into consideration when you’re looking at their late season performances.

AC: Could you see a situation where eithier man tried to pull out of the game if they were voted?

JP: Absolutely not! The All-Star game amounts to a very low intensity pick-up run. Plus, I’m sure they’d like to get out of their respective cities and head down to Guangzhou for a relaxing weekend.

AC: Wouldn’t we all, sir. Alright, final question; as the Middle Kingdom stops for Chinese New Year, we have some time to think back to the games that have already been played. What’s been your favourite game so far in this season?

JP: I thought Xinjiang at Beijing in Round 6 was for me, the most exciting game of the year. At the time, you had Kenyon Martin and the new look Flying Tigers coming into a supercharged Shougang Arena that was just as fired up to see last year’s runners-up as they were to see their new look Ducks with Stephon Marbury. The game was completely sold out and for the first time in Beijing history, the media had to be seated on the upper level because there was so much hype surrounding the game. The game didn’t disappoint — after going down by almost 20 in the fourth quarter, Patrick Mills and the Flying Tigers roared back to take a one-point lead with just under a minute left. But Beijing held on to hit two critical free-throws after a loose ball foul, and Xu Guozhong and Mills both rattled out three-pointers that would have likely given the Flying Tigers the win. It was one of the rare games that actually lived up to all the hype.

There’s been some great games in Shanghai this year, what’s been your favorite?

AC: Probably Beijing’s visit to Shanghai on Xmas Day. Obviously, you had the Shanghai-Beijing factor but with Marbury, a packed house in the Yuanshen and a comeback of sorts in the fourth quarter from the Sharks, it had everything you could want from a grudge match. When Shanghai retook the lead with a minute or so left, the noise around the place was crazy- even the press box was high-fiving each-another; the whole place was going nuts. I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of an atmosphere like that.

JP: There’s something about that guy that makes this league more exciting. I think having Marbury around is great for the CBA – he’s brought in a lot of casual fans that likely would have continued to turn away from the league if he wasn’t here, and I think that’s a real positive thing for Chinese basketball.

AC: Amen. Hopefully he’s got another couple of seasons in him because he’s compelling viewing. Anyway, we should probably call this a day. Jon, your web chat debut has been a pleasure.

JP: Thanks for having me, glad I could finally make it out for one. Let’s do this again, maybe a three-man weave with Bothfeld?

AC: That would be a joy to behold. Let’s keep our fingers crossed when and see what happens. Thanks to you as well from coming on.

JP: No problem. Happy Chinese New Year to you.

AC: And to you, sir.

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CBA Round 26 and Round 4 Make-ups Recap

January 23, 2012

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Round 26: (January 18th)

Zhejiang – 92 @ Beijing – 103

Stephon Marbury put down arguably the best single-game performance of the season — and his case for CBA MVP — with a super efficient 45 point, 12 rebound, 11 assist triple-double as the Ducks took out J.R. Smith and the visiting Golden Bulls in Beijing.

Losing by five heading into the fourth quarter, Beijing outscored their opponents 28-14 to snatch the win. Much of that was through Marbury, who put in two separate personal runs of five and seven straight points. Marbury, who played 43 minutes in all, turned the ball over only once, shooting 15-29 from the field and 10-12 from the free-throw line.

J.R. had himself a nice individual game with 39 points and eight rebounds, but only finished with one assist.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Guangdong – 100 @ Guangsha – 97

Once considered title contenders, Guangsha slipped further down the standings after losing their sixth in seven games, with the latest loss being dealt by league powerhouse, Guangdong.

Up for most of the first half, Guangsha seemed poised to put their string of bad results behind them. But, Guangdong came out firing in the third quarter with 38 points to put them up by a comfortable margin before the home team made it slightly interesting in the fourth. Wilson Chandler continued his offense anemia, shooting a ghastly 1-10 from three en route to a ho-hum 24 points.

Aaron Brooks finished as Guangdong’s high scorer with 26, while Wang Shipeng and Zhu Fangyu did their job offensively with 24 and 23 points respectively.

With the win, Guangdong becomes the first team to clinch a playoff spot and once again look like the strong favorites to win the title.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

DongGuan – 97 @ Shanghai – 110

For now at least, normal service at the Yuanshen has been resumed as the Shanghai Sharks eased to victory over the DongGuan Leopards. Mike Harris returned to the line-up after the death of his brother and conjured up a sensation performance to help Shanghai beat their guests, 110-97. The away side struggled to contain their hosts’ forwards and Shavlik Randolph failed to get any momentum going in a game where he was mercilessly heckled by the home crowd from start to finish. The Sharks keep their winning record going into the New Year break and now stand at 13-11 with eight games to go in the regular season.

To top of an emotional night, a last-second substitution allowed Harris to get an ovation from the crowd, the coaching staff and the owner himself, Yao Ming as the game clocked faded to zero. The returning Sharks forward had picked up 38 points and 12 rebounds while Marcus Landry (24), Liu Wei (18) and Liu Ziqiu (14) also had themselves double-digit shooting nights. For DongGuan, five Leopards players also got significant hauls; Josh Akognon (24 points), Randolph (23), Qiu Biao (15), Qu Guan (11) and Zhang Kai (10).

In his press conference after the game, Dan Panaggio was keen to congratulate Harris on his gutsy performance, noting that the forward had arrived back in Shanghai at around 3:30pm that day and had got himself to the game 30 minutes before the tip-off. ‘He just wanted to get back to his team’, added the Sharks coach, before revealing that Zhang Zhaoxu had persuaded him to sub Harris off so that the American could get his ovation from the crowd. Equally, Panaggio looked relieved to have got the victory to keep the Sharks in contention for a play-off spot but was also keen to stress that there was still several crucial games to come once the season restarts on January 29th. ‘I’m grateful to have won this game…but our job is still in front of us and it is a difficult one’.

Andrew Crawford

Box Score

Xinjiang – 98 @ Shandong – 104

The Flying Tigers made it 0-2 on their two-game Shandong roadtrip, losing to a struggling Shandong team three days after getting spanked by Qingdao. Xirelijiang, who kept Alan Anderson under 10 points in the two team’s first encounter earlier in the year, wasn’t given a chance to guard the former Michigan State standout and Anderson responded with 32 rather effortless points. Othello Hunter pitched in with 22 points and 10 boards.

It was Xinjiang’s 11th road loss of the year, tying them for the worst road record in the league.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Liaoning – 91 @ Jilin – 99

Liaoning’s inconsistency reared its ugly head again in Jilin after the Jaguars came up empty against non-playoff outfit Jilin on the road. Cartier Martin did it to the visitors with 38 points and seven rebounds. Osama Dahglas nearly missed out on a triple-double, going for 15 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists.

Josh Powell, who has been the subject of constant rumors the last couple of weeks, managed only two points and nine rebounds. Though Liaoning has one of the more talented domestic rosters, they’ll need much more from their American big man if they’re to have any shot of advancing in the post-season in March.

–Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Shanxi – 110 @ Qingdao – 106

Box Score

Bayi – 98 @ Tianjin – 110

Box Score

Fujian – 110 @ Foshan – 100

Box Score

Round 4 Make-Ups (January 20th)

Zhejiang @ Xinjiang

 

Xinjiang and Zhejiang played a very physical and intense match that ended with Xinjiang coming out on top. Gani Lawal, who sat for most of the first half after the Flying Tigers got off to a slow start offensively, came back with a vengeance and then some in the second, scoring 20 points and grabbing 21 rebounds, 14 of which came on the offensive end, in just 28 minutes. Tim Pickett had a nice game as well, finishing with 32-6-6.

Entertaining throughout, the game ultimately unraveled in the end for Chouzhou because Josh Boone and J.R. Smith both fouled out with over four minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the latter fouling out on an offensive foul. Frustrated at the referees, who let a lot of physical play under the basket slide, Smith whipped the basketball at the nearest referee, which resulted in his second technical of the game. He got his first earlier in the third quarter after he jawed back and forth with Lawal. Smith had a number of incredible individual plays, including an off-the-wrong-foot slam that he powered home after dismissing three defenders with a slick crossover. He finished with 41 points, but came up goose eggs in the assist department.

–Jon Pastuszek

Box Score (Chinese)

Bayi – 105 @ Shanxi – 109

Box Score (Chinese)

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CBA Round 24 Recap

January 15, 2012

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Beijing – 111 @ Shanxi – 114

Stephon Marbury’s return to his Chinese “hometown” of Taiyuan was spoiled by an unusually balanced effort from the Brave Dragons, who had five players score in double figures. Charles Gaines paced the home squad with 28 points and 14 rebounds, while Marcus Williams and Lu Xiaoming each pitched in with 19 points and five assists.

Marbury, who played his first season with Shanxi two seasons ago, scored 22 points and handed out six assists. But a slow start that saw the Ducks down 14 at the half ultimately doomed them as they failed to come back despite a strong third quarter. Randolph Morris lead the way for Beijing, scoring 32, most of which came at the free-throw line, and grabbing 11 rebounds. Chen Lei, who is nursing an injury from earlier this month, only played four minutes.

The loss is Beijing’s eighth in the last 10 games.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Guangdong – 133 @ Foshan – 124

While Guangsha and Beijing slip down the standings after strong starts to the season, Guangdong continues to play itself into form after winning its fourth straight game at the hands of inter-province rival, Foshan. The visiting Souther Tigers shot a blistering 46-80 from the field as six players scored 10 or more points. Aaron Brooks had a team high 31 points.

Foshan’s Michael Maddanly put in a CBA career high 42 and Marcus Douthit scored 30. With the win, Guangdong goes to 19-4 on the year and now holds a comfortable four game lead over second place DongGuan.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

 

Shanghai – 84 @ Liaoning – 93

The Shanghai Sharks gave up their first sweep of the season. Having lost at home to the Liaoning Jaguars in December, they got the same treatment when they played the reverse tie in Benxi. Like the last time the Sharks encountered their hosts, the Jaguars were slick, ruthless and more than willing to pass the ball around as Shanghai tried but failed to keep up with the home side’s offence. The 93-84 loss means that the Sharks road record now stands at 3-9.

The Sharks went in at half-time in the lead thanks to a strong showing by Marcus Landry in the first quarter but after that, the deafening Tiexi crowd helped pull the Jaguars out of their funk and when Josh Powell appeared from the bench, things started to click for the home side in the third quarter. Shanghai stuck with it and kept on fighting until the final buzzer but the Liaoning offence simply too much to contain for the visiting Sharks team.

Zhang Qingpeng scored 20 points while Powell grabbed a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds. For the Sharks, Mike Harris made 30 points, Landry picked up 21 and Zhang Zhaoxu scrapped his way to 11.

Andrew Crawford

Box Score

Tianjin – 112 @ Xinjiang – 134

Tim Pickett exploded for 36 points in the first half to finish with 55 points and 12 rebounds in an entertaining affair in Urumqi that ended with a much needed win for the Flying Tigers. Picket’s double-nickel is the second highest single-game tally of the season, two points behind J.R. Smith’s 57. The home win ended a three game losing streak for Xinjiang and puts them at 11-10 on the year.

With Tianjin’s Lebanese point guard, Rony Fahed, out for the year with a broken hand, it was up to Tianjin’s domestic players to guard Pickett. They failed miserably as Pickett came in midway through the first quarter with an aggressive mindset that saw him on constant attack. He missed only two shots the entire first half and through Pickett, Xinjiang built up a big halftime lead. It’s Xinjiang’s biggest win of the season and by far the most points they’ve put up all year. Gani Lawal played well with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Xirelijiang, who celebrated his birthday with the win, contributed with 16 points on 4-8 from three.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Guangsha – 74 @ Jilin – 93

Wilson Chandler scored a CBA career low 12 points and Guangsha was held to under 100 points for the fifth straight game in a surprising road loss to sub-.500 Jilin. The loss is the Lions’ third in their last four and puts them back into the multi-team crowd that is clogging up the playoff picture. At present, they are tied in the loss column at eight with Beijing and DongGuan.

Osama Dahglas went for 25 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, Lu Wei scored 20, Jameel Watkins saw double with 19 and 15 boards and Cartier Martin put in 18 points.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Shandong – 89 @ DongGuan – 95

Box Score

Bayi – 94 @ Jiangsu – 112

Box Score

Qingdao – 110 @ Fujian – 104

Box Score

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CBA Round 17 Recap

December 29, 2011

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Guangsha – 118 @ Beijing – 112

After soaring to a 13-0 start, Beijing now looks like they’re coming back down to Earth. The Ducks lost their third straight game on Wednesday, this time to visiting Guangsha. It was their first home loss of the year. Wilson Chandler destroyed the Ducks for 44 points and 18 rebounds and P.J. Ramos played well in support with 26 and 14. Lin Chih-chieh chipped in with 15 points and 5 assists. Stephon Marbury did his best with 34 points.

The Ducks were dominated inside as Randolph Morris fouled out trying to contain the massive Ramos and the active Chandler. The two went to the line 11 times respectively. Also not helping matters was the Ducks’ 7-26 performance from three. Beijing is for real — no team starts a season 13-0 on a fluke — but, its unlikely they’ll be able to maintain their torrid start to the year during the season’s second half. For one, they’re not very deep and their players are already showing signs of fatigue. Two, they rely too heavily on three point shot. They’ll live on it more than they’ll die with it, but Beijing’s status as a championship contender may be slowly fading away.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Guangdong – 106 @ Bayi – 105

Normally it’s a Wang who saves the day for Guangdong when the game is on the line. But that Wang is usually Wang Shipeng, not Wang Zheng. On Wednesday, it was the lesser known of the two Wangs who hit a go-ahead hook shot in the lane with under five seconds as the Southern Tigers came away with a dramatic victory against Bayi. Aaron Brooks scored 20 points in 24 minutes, James Singleton threw up a double-double with 18 points and 13 boards, and Wang Shipeng scored 18 and snared 7 rebounds as Guangdong once again put up another balanced team effort on offense.

With the win, Guangdong now has the same 13-3 record as first place Beijing. But because the Ducks beat them earlier in the season, they still remain in second place.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Tianjin – 81 @ Shanghai – 93

In front of a sparse crowd, the Shanghai Sharks handled their business with a minimum of fuss. When the final buzzer arrived to spare Tianjin any more punishment, the scoreboard was stuck at 93-81. Despite winning their last three games, it was exactly what the Lions deserved after such a lifeless performance. Mike Harris picked up 27 points and 11 rebounds whilst Ryan Forehan-Kelly made 24 in a game that Dan Panaggio described as ‘a necessary win’.

Donnell Harvey made 27 points but other than Zhang Nan, had absolutely no-one to help him try and keep the game close. Coach Panaggio revealed in his press conference that several members of his team were struggling with the flu but insisted on playing, reflecting both the commitment to the cause in Shanghai’s ranks but also how bad the Lions were in losing by such a distance to their weakened hosts.

The Foshan Dralions, recently shorn of their talisman, Gerald Green, are the next team to visit the Yuanshen. The Sharks, now 6-1 at home, will be looking for revenge against their guests after an embarrassing away defeat back in October. Going 9-8 on Friday night would be a remarkable way to finish off 2011.

Box Score

Andrew Crawford

Xinjiang -92 @ Fujian – 115

Xinjiang’s second straight game with an all Chinese lineup (Patty Mills didn’t play because of a hamstring) lost on both style and the score sheet as they were blown out on the road against Fujian. Will McDonald dominated with 32 points and 14 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive end. Offensive boards were an ongoing theme during the match as Fujian took a 21-8 advantage in that department and went +20 total rebounds.

Worth mentioning here is Xu Guozhong’s stupid tally of 46 points, which is not only a career high, but a season high for Chinese players this season.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Zhejiang – 95 @ Liaoning – 117

Box Score

Shanxi – 91 @ DongGuan – 110

Box Score

 

Jiangsu – 105 @ Jilin – 111

Box Score

Foshan – 88 @ Qingdao – 100

Box Score

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CBA Round 16 Recap

December 28, 2011

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Beijing – 87 @ Shanghai – 96

The city of Shanghai got exactly what it wanted this Christmas as it’s basketball team defeated the Beijing Ducks in a gritty, compelling match that saw both sides have their chances to win the game. Beijing had the lead going into the fourth quarter but a comeback win was made possible when Ryan Forehan-Kelly helped eat up the seven-point deficit before Mike Harris almost tore the rim down with a go-ahead dunk, before the Sharks made the win safe with cooly taken chances on the fast break.

Three Shark players got themselves double-doubles; Forehan-Kelly (25 points; 13 rebounds), Harris (21 points; 13 rebounds) and Zhang (16 points; 13 rebounds), whilst for Beijing, Randolph Randolph scored a game high 26 points and Stephon Marbury got a double-double of his own, racking up 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Andrew Crawford, Shark Fin Hoops

Box Score

Shanxi – 106 @ Guangdong – 111

Guangdong survived a home scare against always dangerous Shanxi. Down 109-106 with 17 seconds left, Guangdong’s Chen Jianghua went to the line with a chance to put the game on ice. He missed both, but unfortunately for the visitors, Charles Gaines missed the rebound and turned the ball over right back to the home squad. Zhu Fangyu followed by hitting both of his free-throws to put the game out of reach to give Guangdong their 12th win of the year.

James Singleton put up 20 points and 17 rebounds, Aaron Brooks dropped 21 and Zhu Fangyu and Wang Shipeng each contributed 15. The super foreign combo of Gaines and Marcus Williams each scored 35 points, but the team got little from anyone else, including the game’s biggest offender, Duan Jiangpeng, who was bottled up for just four points in 40 minutes.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Xinjiang – 90 @ DongGuan – 97

Life after Bob Donewald and Kenyon Martin took on an added obstacle on Sunday night as Patty Mills, the team’s lone import at the moment, sat out with a hamstring injury. Playing with an all-Chinese lineup, the Flying Tigers put up a good fight in DongGuan and even took the lead in the second half. But ultimately, the lack of a true point guard came back to get them in the end as Xinjiang turned the ball over 21 times, including a few crucial ones down the stretch, resulting in their second straight loss in Guangdong province.

Josh Akognon scored a game high 24 points, Shavlik Randolph added 17 and Qiu Biao had 15 for the Leopards, who move into sixth place with an 8-7 record. Xinjiang’s consolation may have been Tang Zhengdong, who had his strongest game of the year with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Qingdao – 100 @ Shandong – 94

We’re not so much shocked by the fact that the Lester Hudsons Eagles won a game on the road, but rather that they won with three non-Hudsons (Olumide Oyedeji, Xue Yuyang and Li Gen) scoring more than 15 points.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Jiangsu – 99 @ Guangsha – 106

Box Score

Zhejiang – 90 @ Jilin – 100

Box Score

Bayi – 84 @ Liaoning – 103

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Tianjin – 108 @ Foshan – 93

Box Score

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