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CBA Round 7 Recap

December 6, 2011

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Shanxi – 97 @ Beijing – 121

Another round, another win for the Ducks, who are now 7-0 to start the year. Surprisingly though, it’s not Beijing’s best start in franchise history — they went 8-0 in the CBA’s innagural season, 1995-96.

As is becoming a common trend for them at home, the Ducks went to the free-throw line way more times than their opponent, shooting 42 to Shanxi’s 24, which is either a testament to their players’ aggressiveness or to the referees’ friendly home whistle. Randolph Morris finished as the team’s high scorer with 26 points and added 11 points as well. Six players for Beijing scored in double figures.

Shanxi’s Marcus Williams and Charles Gaines combined for 62 points, but their Chinese players only manage to combine for 35 points.

Box Score

Jon Pastuszek

Xinjiang 121 @ Tianjin 108

Xinjiang got back on a winning track two days after a tough loss against Beijing thanks to two scorching hot performances from Patty Mills and Xu Guozhong. Mills went 8-10 from three, only slightly better than Xu’s 8-11 splash-fest from deep. Even big man Mengke Bateer got into the act, burying 4-11 from long range. Bateer also added 9 assists, which gives him an amazing 25 for his last two games. The seven-footer leads the league in that category with 8 per game.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Liaoning – 118 @ Shanghai – 99

Shanghai Sharks fell to their fourth defeat in six games after a firestorm of offense from Liaoning Jaguars. Rodney Carney was lights-out throughout the game and the vocal group of away fans gave their man a standing ovation when he was withdrawn in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter following a big shift of dunks, huge threes and general mischief making. Josh Powell also got on on the high scoring fun whilst four other players on the Jaguars made double figures including the beefy Chinese centre, Han Dejun.
Shanghai fought hard and had five of their own in the double figures club (Liu Wei, Mike Harris, Ryan Forehan-Kelly, Peng Fei and Max Zhang) but simply couldn’t keep up with their guests’ furious pace. Coach Panaggio admitted his side were outplayed, calling Liaoning’s performance, ‘a clinic’ and will now have to rally his players for the upcoming game against defending champions, Guangdong on Wednesday in what is the first of another tricky three away fixtures.
Andrew Crawford

Box Score

Jilin 89 @ Guangsha – 109

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

Foshan – 92 @ Guangdong – 116

Guangdong – Foshan was the second victim of heavy fog this season after Guangdong couldn’t fly out of Jinan. Originally scheduled for Saturday night, the CBA moved the game until tonight. Aaron Brooks scored a team-high 22 points.

Foshan’s Marcus Haislip scored 22 points in his 2011-12 CBA debut, but the bigger story was that his debut was against the team he helped lift to a championship last season, Guangdong.

Other Scores:

Jiangsu – 97 @ Bayi – 99 (OT)

Box Score

DongGuan 100 @ Shandong 94

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Fujian – 120 @ Qingdao – 96

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CBA Round 6 Recap

December 5, 2011

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Xinjiang – 97 @ Beijing – 99

Is Beijing for real? That was the question heading into the Ducks’ Friday night nationally televised home game against perennial title contender, Xinjiang.

The answer: A definitive yes.

Beijing’s 18-point halftime lead stood up to a furious fourth quarter rally, and now Beijing is standing alone in first place, two games up on both Xinjiang and Guangdong. Zhu Yanxi (13 points), Chen Lei (16), Stephon Marbury (18) and Randolph Morris (22) combined to once again create a balanced offensive attack that spread their opponents out and made them pay from the outside. Before the final buzzer, seven different Beijing players hit a three-pointer in a 13-24 team effort.

As is becoming the norm, Xinjiang got off to a slow start in the first quarter and were down three heading into the break. But instead of regrouping at the interval, they temporarily collapsed, scoring only 11 points in the second quarter while giving up 26 on offense.

But the Flying Tigers eventually found their championship form in the fourth quarter. Patty Mills, who finished with a game high 32 points, became more aggressive on offense and Kenyon Martin, 22 points and 11 rebounds, played like a maniac on the defensive end, and with under a minute Xinjiang went up by one point. Xu Guozhong had a wide open three that would have put Xinjiang up four with under thirty seconds left, but it rimmed out. Lee Hsueh-lin came down with the loose ball and was fouled in the chaos of the play. He hit both to put Beijing up one. Chen went one of two from the line after Mills missed another three. The third chance wasn’t the charm for Mills either, however, as he missed a tough running lay-up with under ten seconds left that was nearly tipped in by Martin.

Beijing has been on the right end of three down-to-the-wire games, which may indicate a degree of luck to some, but this team is for real. With bigs Ji Zhe and Zhu Yanxi able to stretch the floor with their shooting, Marbury has all the lanes he needs to get into the paint and make this happen, and Morris can have some room to operate in the high post. They’ve got a nice blend of local and foreign talent — Beijing is a definite top four team this year.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Bayi – 91 @ Zhejiang – 113

J.R. Smith put together one of the stupidest box scores ever seen… well, ever: 52 points, 22 rebounds, 7 steals, 4 assists. And he almost took off Xu Zhonghao’s head with a near Slam of the Year that caromed off the back of the rim. You can check it out in the clip above if you don’t believe me.

Zhejiang head coach, Ding Wei, took a page out of last year’s playbook and only put Josh Boone in the game for 15 minutes, which gave J.R. plenty of time — 44 minutes, to be exact — to put up his epic statistical masterpiece. Ding went with the same sit-Boone-for-the-first-half strategy last year when Marcus Williams was cooking up triple-doubles for breakfast, lunch and dinner to end the season. If J.R. gets hot in the first quarter, expect him to use it again in future games this year. Which of course means, you can probably expect more big games from J.R.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Guangdong – 98 @ Shandong – 93

Guangdong rebounded from the huge upset they suffered at the hands of Qingdao on Friday night by outscoring Shandong 32-13 in the second quarter to win their fourth game of the season. Zhu Fangyu had 27 points to lead the team. Shandong sort of had a chance to win in the fourth quarter, but missed a three that would have cut Guangdong’s lead down to two.

Shandong has now lost three straight after starting the year 3-0.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Jiangsu – 95 @ Shanxi – 112

Charles Gaines had 36-15, Xing Zhijiang scored a season-high 22 and Marcus Williams added 17 points and 8 assists as the Brave Dragons took care of business at home against a shorthanded Dragons squad that was down a foreigner. And that’s too bad, because we missed out on the first Marcus Williams vs. Marcus Williams matchup in CBA history that would have decided who the best Marcus Williams was.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Jilin – 67 @ Shanghai – 85

From the start, Shanghai seemed in control and via the quick hands of Peng Fei and Liu Wei, quickly opened up a lead that the Sharks never lost. Mike Harris came on for Ryan Forehan-Kelly (hereby known as RFK to prevent the constant abuse of my hyphen key) at the start of the second quarter and quickly made a small lead something far more substantial. The Sharks led 42-23 at the break.

To their credit, Jilin kept on fighting until the very end but it was effectively for pride alone. The game seemed decided well before the fourth quarter thanks to the earlier outbreak of blistering shooting, and the Sharks were content to slow the game down amidst the boisterous noise from the home fans.

When the final buzzer came, Shanghai could celebrate another victory, this time to the score of 85-67. Harris finished with 28 points and 22 rebounds, RFK made 16 points with seven rebounds whilst Liu (14), Peng and Zhang Zhaoxu (both 10 points) all scored in double figures.

Andrew Crawford

Box Score

Other Games:

DongGuan – 118 @ Qingdao – 109

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Liaoning – 108 @ Foshan – 111

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Tianjin – 101 @ Fujian – 108

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CBA Round 3 Recap

November 27, 2011

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Beijing Shougang Ducks – 104 @ Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers – 92

Beijing used a 36 point fourth quarter to pull away from four-time defending champs Guangdong to come up with the CBA’s second eye-popping result of the season. Ji Zhe, Chen Lei, Stephon Marbury, Randolph Morris and Zhu Yanxi all hit double figures for the Ducks in a highly balanced attack that only turned the ball over eight times.

The win puts Beijing at 3-0, putting them in first place with Shandong.

But, while the Ducks were able to spread out the scoring, it was their defense that powered them to their stunning win. They held the Southern Tigers to just 37% shooting and forced 24 turnovers. In his Chinese debut, Aaron Brooks had only four points on 2-9 from the field. James Singleton was one of the lone bright spots, scoring 33 points on 13-17 from the field and grabbing 15 rebounds. Zhu Fangyu had 22.

Yi Jianlian went down with a knee injury in the third quarter. He is expected to be out for two to four weeks.

Jon Pastuszek

Qingdao Double Star Eagles – 101 @ Jilin Northeast Tigers – 104

A good, competitive game was spoiled in the end by… what else, refs. Down two and inbounding with 27 seconds left, Qingdao’s Wang Gang was called for a highly questionable offensive foul after he set a screen on Jilin’s Cartier Martin. The foul led to two free throws, which Jilin converted, and Qingdao was unable to come back.

Jilin overcame Martin’s first bad shooting night of his three game Chinese career behind a balanced scoring attack that saw five players in all hit double figure scoring. Osama Dahglas lead Jilin with a nice 19-10-8. Martin finished with 23 points on 8-23 shooting.

Qingdao’s Lester Hudson led all Round 3 scorers with 50. But as is typically the case for the Eagles, the Chinese players did not step up. Nobody scored more than nine points. Center Ivan Johnson ended with 21 points and 13 boards.

Jon Pastuszek

Bayi Fubang Rockets – 92 @ Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers – 111

Xinjiang put their shocking Round 2 loss against Shanxi behind them last night at Red Mountain Stadium, dispatching visiting Bayi with relative ease. Patty Mills looked terrific running the show for the Flying Tigers in his debut, finishing off with 26 points highly efficient points and 8 assists. Kenyon Martin terrorized the rims for five highlight-reel dunks, finishing the game with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists. Mengke Bateer added 15 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Tang Zhengdong chipped in with 12, which was enough to make him the sixth member of the CBA 7,000 career points club. He joins current players Bateer, Wang Zhizhi, Zhu Fangyu and retired players Li Nan Liu Yudong.

Bayi shot over 50% from the field, but 23 turnovers and an astounding -17 on the offensive glass were more than enough to do them in. Xu Zhonghao led the Rockets with 20 and Zhang Bo had 18.

Quincy Douby’s season ending injury exposed Xinjiang’s lack of depth at the point guard position. Mills will take most of the minutes at that position, but the team should feel better about the backup spot with the emergence of Ge Yang, who came over to the team two weeks ago via the CBA’s short-term transfer draft. Ge started the first quarter and was solid, keeping his turnovers down and getting the team into the offense. But, that’s secondary to the arrival of Mills, who looked really, really good in the 26 minutes he was on the court. He’s got the jets to blow by people in this league, as evidenced by his eight free throw attempts, but he’s also got a nice in between game, using pull ups, step backs and floaters from mid-range. He’s also a heck of a passer and an especially good alley-oop thrower, the latter of which will be music to K-Mart’s high-flying ears.

Jon Pastuszek

Shanghai Dongfang Sharks – 98 @ Foshan Dralions – 102

Shanghai went 0-3 with guess what, another last gasp loss in a game they were competitive in until the last few moments! Liu Wei put up 30 points and Mike Harris and Peng Fei were also full of endeavor in a gritty, tough game where neither team looked like they could take control of the game.
Foshan had the ace in the pack in Gerald Green, who implausibly became invincible for the night after two games of not really doing much, dropping 41 points including eight from downtown and had the home crowd on their feet in the final quarter when he mixed a clutch three-pointer with a swaggering dunk to help his side come back from a deficit to win the game. 
Shanghai could and should have closed out the game and will be kicking themselves that they didn’t. Wilson Chandler and the national media is coming to watch Shanghai on Wednesday. This was not the best way to prepare such a visit.

Andrew Crawford

Fujian SBS Sturgeons – 98 @ Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls – 113

Once again Josh Boone was somehow The Man for Zhejiang, making an astounding 17-19 from the floor for 40 points as the Golden Bulls eased past Fujian with J.R. Smith putting up 20 points and four assists in another under-the-radar performance. Small forward Zhang Chunjun played nicely in a supporting role, totaling 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Anthony Roberson made 45 points for Fujian including seven three-pointers and six rebounds in feisty, volume shooting performance (28 shots) that kept the score respectable. But ultimately the game belong to Zhejiang who did what they needed to do infront of their home fans.

Andrew Crawford

Zhejiang Guangsha Lions – 89 @ Shandong Kingston Gold Lions – 97

Shandong continued their surprising ascension to the top of the standings by winning their third straight game, defeating Guangsha at home. Othello Hunter went off for 27 points and 19 rebounds, eight of which came on the offensive end. Shandong ended +13 on the offensive boards. Sun Jie went 6-11 from three to finish with 24 points. Alan Anderson had 15.

For Guangsha, it was once again the Wilson Chandler show. He scored 42 points and snatched 10 boards. But no one else for the Lions hit double figure scoring, a fact that has to be troubling for head coach Jim Cleamons. Dwyane Jones continued his brutal play on the offensive end, only managing six points.

While Chandler is putting up monster numbers, Guangsha should be concerned about the lack of production from its other players. Jones is on the way out for a center that will be able to score better. But having the ball in Chandler’s hands all the time is not good for the team offense because he’s not good at creating shots for other guys. This league has never seen a player this versatile and this skilled on the offensive end, and he will continue to give opposing team nightmares in that department. But, if Guangsha is going to become a top tier team, they’re going to have to figure out a way to let other people, most notably Lin Chih-chieh, some more good looks at the basket.

Jon Pastuszek

Liaoning Jiebao – 76 @ Tianjin Ronggang Golden Lions – 93

Tianjin continues to prove the NiuBBall pre-season last place prognostications wrong with their second win of the young season, this one at the hands of Liaoning. Rony Fahed, who looked so bad in the pre-season, continued his strong play, tallying 27 points and 8 assists. David Harrison, who didn’t look much better, appears to be in shape and recovered from the broken fibula that ended his season prematurely last season. He went off for 15 and 19, while Donnell Harvey had 22 points and a quiet (for him) 8 boards.

If Tianjin can continue to get production from their three imports and some added scoring from Zhang Nan (15 points), then they are a possible playoff candidate potential middle of the pack team. Sorry, got carried away with myself for a minute. Hey — they’re not as bad as I thought they’d be.

DongGuan New Century Leopards – 96 @ Jiangsu Nangang Dragons – 103

DongGuan on the other hand, is worse than I thought they’d be. They go to 0-3 after losing on the road at Jiangsu.

The Leopards are in a tough predicament. The position they relied on to facilitate the entire offense, center (via Jackson Vroman), is being occupied by Shavlik Randolph. Anyone who’s watched Shav, whether in his Duke days or in his NBA journeyman days, knows that he’s not a tremendous creator. And that’s affecting everyone, from Zhang Kai to Josh Akognon, who has really struggled with shot his shot selection and his shot making. Brian Goorjian is a tremendous teacher and coach, but I’m beginning to wonder about his ability as a personnel guy. He’s whiffed hard on his last two import selections, Courtney Sims when he was brought in to replace Jackson in the playoffs, and now Randolph.

With a young roster and a pair of imports who don’t seem to blend well together, it could be a long season for DongGuan.

Jon Pastuszek

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2011-2012 CBA Preview

November 20, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jon Pastuszek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jon Pastuszek

3. Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls

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

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

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

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

Edward Bothfeld

4. Jiangsu Nangang Dragons

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edward Bothfeld and Jon Pastuszek

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edward Bothfeld

6. Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jon Pastuszek

7. Liaoning Jiebao Innovators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edward Bothfeld and Jon Pastuszek

8. Beijing Shougang Ducks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jon Pastuszek

9. Jilin GBT Northeast Tigers

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

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

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

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

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

Jon Pastuszek

10. Bayi Fubang Rockets

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jon Pastuszek

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jon Pastuszek

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

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

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

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

Edward Bothfeld 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jon Pastuszek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew Crawford 

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

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

–Jon Pastuszek

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

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

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

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

–Jon Pastuszek

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Catching up on all things China National Team

June 24, 2011

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June 14th: China’s young “second team” goes down to Japan in East Asian Championship semi-finals

Coming off of a solid win against South Korea on June 12th in the last game of the group stage, young Team China entered their semi-finals game last Tuesday against Japan with a marquee win over one of their biggest Asian rivals. Knowing that a rematch in the Finals was all but assured after the Koreans beat China Taipei in the game before, the Chinese knew that their toughest work still lay ahead of them.

If only they knew.

Forcing the Chinese into 17 second-half turnovers, Japan spoiled any thoughts of a China-Korea Round Two as they stormed back from a 12 point halftime deficit to upset the hosts 72-62 in Nanjing. Though the loss is a bitter disappointment for the Chinese, their failure to win won’t have any effect on their qualification for the FIBA Asia Championship in September. As the host nation, China has already received an automatic bid and will be assured the chance to play in the official Asian qualifying tournament for the 2012 London Olympics.

Kenta Hirose, Shinsuke Kashigawi and Kosuke Takeuchi all scored 13 points to lead the Japenese. “Max” Zhang Zhaoxu led the Chinese with 16 points.  The Chinese Second Team hasn’t beat Japan in six years, dating back to when they lost to the Japanese in the 2005 East Asia Games semi-finals.

Yu Shulong, Meng Duo, Yi Li, Dong Hanlin and Su Wei started for Team China, but with the Chinese’s spot in the FIBA Asia Championship locked up as the host nation, substitute head coach Li Nan subbed in and out freely in order to give all players ample time to showcase their ability.  Yu, Meng, Zhang Bo and Han Shuo interchanged throughout the first half in a three-guard attack, with China’s four-headed inside combo of Su, Dong, Zhang and Mo Ke doing the dirty work up front.  Facilitating mostly out of the high-post, the Chinese offense looked decent at best and positively terrible at worst.

But, by the end of the first half, China’s huge size advantage up front translated into numerous offensive rebounds and putbacks.  On the defensive side, the Japanese couldn’t get anything going in their offensive sets, and when it got late in the shot clock, the Japanese guards had trouble breaking down anybody off the dribble for clean looks.  With their domination on the glass and solid defense, China went into the locker room up 38-24, despite turning the ball over nine times.

Coming out in the second half, Japan made a few key adjustments on both ends. Ramping up the effort on the defensive end, Japan swarmed China’s big men on the catch, sending two and sometimes three men into the post. Though all of China’s bigs struggled to do anything positive offensively in the second half, Su Wei stood out as the team’s worst performer.  Looking equally inept at either scoring or passing, Su charged into defenders, lost the ball in traffic, threw the ball away and got his shot blocked en route to six turnovers.

It didn’t get much better for China’s guards.  Meng coughed up the rock seven times, most of which came as a result of forcing reckless drives into traffic.  Yu, who threw a couple of loopy passes that were picked off and converted into points on the other end, didn’t fare much better, finishing with four himself.

When Japan wasn’t racing out in transition off turnovers, they were calmly executing in their half court offense off of dribble penetration and ball screens.  Confounded by Japan’s steady second half diet of pick-and-rolls, the Chinese allowed their opponents easy access into the lane for simple lay-ups or kick outs.  Japan purposely picked on the immobile Su and Zhang on pick-and-rolls, and with the plodding duo slow to both show out and recover, Hirose and Kashigawi ran amok as China’s helpside defense refused to make even the most basic rotations.

Though the loss is disappointing, its key to remember that this was not even close to China’s best team.  Bob Donewald was back in Beijing with the team’s best players preparing for China’s trip to Australia, so this was a chance for China’s young and inexperienced players to pick up some game action.  But, don’t try telling that to Chinese fans. On a poll after the game on Sina.com, 76% of voters said the game was “a dissapointment, there’s no way they should have lost.”

In the third-place game, China beat Chinese Taipei, and Korea beat Japan in the championship.

June 16th: Before team heads off to Australia, Donewald trims National Team roster to 20

Forced to do another round of cuts in the days prior to China leaving for a an exhibition series in Australia, Bob Donewald released seven players from National Team duty.

Liu Ziqiu, Peng Fei, Duan Jiangpeng, Han Shuo, Zhang Kai, Dong Hanlin and Zhang Sontao were all axed.  Yao Ming, despite publicly contemplating retirement, remains on the roster.

The remaining players:

Guards: Wang Shipeng (王仕鹏), Zhang Bo (张博), Liu Wei (刘炜), Zhang Qingpeng (张庆鹏), Xirelijiang (西热力江), Meng Duo (孟铎), Guo Ailun (郭艾伦), Yu Shulong (于澍龙)

Forwards: Sun Yue (孙悦), Zhou Peng (周鹏), Zhu Fangyu (朱芳雨), Wang Lei (王磊), Ding Jinhui (丁锦辉), Yi Li (易立)

Centers: Mo Ke (莫科), Su Wei (苏伟), Wang Zhizhi (王治郅), Zhang Zhaoxu (张兆旭), Yi Jianlian (易建联), Yao Ming (姚明)

All except Yao, Yi, Guo and Meng went on the trip.  Yao is injured, Yi is back in the States training privately, and Guo is with the U-19 National Team preparing for the FIBA U-19 Championship.  Meng did not make the trip for undisclosed reasons.

China beat Austrailian professional club team, the Perth Wildcats, on Wednesday and will play the Australian National Team tonight.  The two teams will play again on Sunday in Singapore.

June 20th: CBA announces roster for FIBA U-19 World Championship

With the FIBA U-19 World Championship set to tip off in Latvia on June 30th, the CBA announced the official roster for the tournament.

Guards: Wang Zirui (王子瑞), Guo Ailun (郭艾伦), Luo Hanshen (罗汉琛)

Forwards: Zhai Xiaochuan (翟晓川), Gu Quan (顾全), Ju Mingxin (鞠明欣), Wang Pu (王璞), Zhu Xuhang (朱旭航), Sun Tonglin (孙桐林)

Centers: Xu Tao (徐韬), Wang Zhenglin (王哲林), Li Muhao (李慕豪)

China has been drawn in Group D with U.S.A., Egypt and Serbia.

This is considered to be one of the best U-19 teams China has ever fielded.  Beyond Guo, who should be one of the better players in the tournament, China also boasts Li Muhao, Gu Quan and Zhai Xiaochuan among a roster that is expected to at the very least make it out of the group stages.

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China cruises past Hong Kong in FIBA East Asia Championship opener

June 12, 2011

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China dominated Hong Kong in their opening game of the 2011 FIBA East Asia Championship in Nanjing, beating the visitors by a score of 104-43.

China raced out to a 15-0 lead to start the game and never looked back, outscoring Hong Kong 28-5 in the first quarter.  China continued to keep the defensive pressure on in the second quarter, holding Hong Kong to a mere 16 points in the first half.

Meng Duo led all scorers with 22 points, including 6-9 shooting from three.  Yi Li was a perfect 7-7 from inside the arc to finish with 18 and Yu Shulong missed only two of his eight shots to chip in with 17.  “Max” Zhang Zhaoxu nearly had a double-double with 9 points and 17 rebounds.

Coach Bob Donewald rolled out a starting lineup of Yu Shulong, Meng Duo, Yi Li, Han Donglin and Zhang Zhaoxu.  Making his FIBA debut for Team China, Han Shuo logged 35 minutes off the bench, netting 8 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.  Peng Fei, also debuting, played for 16 minutes and 6 points on 1-5 three-point shooting.

Zhu Fangyu, Sun Yue and Zhang Bo all were ineligible to play because they were serving suspensions for their involvement in last year’s brawl against a Brazilian club team.

We would give you some statistics for Hong Kong, but staying within the tradition of Chinese stat-keeping, none of the Chinese sites found it necessary to post individual or team statistics for their opponent.  Tack on another one for “basketball with Chinese characteristics.”

With China already having qualified for the FIBA Asia Championship in September as the host nation, this competition is merely an opportunity for Donewald to test out new players and lineups, as well as a chance for China’s trio of suspended National Team regulars to sit some games out.  China will play South Korea this afternoon.

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CBA announces 12-man roster for FIBA East Asia Championship

May 31, 2011

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Once seen as a potential NBA player, Chen Jianghua’s chances to remain on National Team are looking very dim at the moment. (Photo courtesy of TheFirst.cn)

Earlier today, the Chinese Basketball Association officially announced its 12-man roster for the upcoming FIBA East Asia Championship, which will be held in Nanjing, Jiangsu province from June 10-15.  The East Asia Championship is the qualifying tournament for the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship, which will held from September 15-25 in Wuhan, Hunan province.

The East Asia Championship will comprise of six teams split into two preliminary round groups: China, South Kore and Hong Kong will be in Group A, and Mongolia, Japan and Chinese Tapei will be in Group B.  As the host nation, China has received automatic qualification for the Asia Championship in September.  The top three teams will join China in qualifying for the Championship.

With a long summer of warm-up matches ahead of them, China National Team head coach, Bob Donewald, and decision makers at the CBA decided to rest National Team regulars Wang Zhizhi, Ding Jinhui, Liu Wei, Wang Shipeng, Zhang Qingpeng, Zhou Wei and Yi Jianlian in favor of a younger, more inexperienced roster that includes several players who are on the bubble for September’s Asia Championship, including Yu Shulong, Zhang Zhaoxu and Dong Hanlin.  Han Shuo and Peng Fei will make their National Team debuts.

The roster is also full of players who need to fulfill their FIBA-imposed suspensions as a result of last October’s notorious on-court brawl with a Brazilian club team in Henan.  Zhu Fangyu received a three-game suspension, while Sun Yue and Zhang Bo each received one-game suspensions as a result of their actions during the bench clearing fight. Automatically qualified, China’s end result will not affect their participation in the Asia Championship, which makes this FIBA-sanctioned qualifier the perfect time for China’s star players to sit out and serve their suspensions.

Clearly, the most notable name left off the roster is Guangdong Hongyuan’s point-guard, Chen Jianghua.  Chen, who exhibited so much promise when he exploded onto the global basketball after he became the subject of a New York Times piece, has suffered a series of serious injuries in recent years, the latest being a torn ACL in 2010 that caused him to miss the CBA Finals and the 2010 FIBA World Championship.  With deteriorated physical skills and diminished confidence, Chen was a shell of his former self this season and may never regain the game-changing quickness that garnered him so much interest from both inside China and abroad.

With his name not on the roster for Nanjing, Chen very well could find himself among the next round of players cut from the National Team training camp roster, which currently stands at 29 players.  As fans of the game, we hope this latest setback for Chen doesn’t put him back for good — in a league that generally lacks exciting individual players, we believe guys like Chen are good for Chinese basketball, which could use all of the genuine fan interest it can get.

FIBA EAST ASIA CHAMPIONSHIP ROSTER:

Guards:
Yu Shulong (于澍龙), Jilin Changchun
Zhang Bo (张博), Bayi Rockets
Sun Yue (孙悦), Beijing Aoshen
Han Shuo (韩硕), Bayi Rockets*

Forwards:
Yi Li (易立), Jiangsu Nangang
Zhu Fangyu (朱芳雨), Guangdong Hongyuan
Peng Fei (彭飞), Shanghai Dongfang*
Dong Hanlin (董瀚麟), Guangdong Hongyuan
Meng Duo (孟铎), DongGuan New Century

Centers:
Zhang Zhaoxu (张兆旭), Shanghai Dongfang
Su Wei (苏伟), Guangdong Hongyuan
Mo Ke (莫科), Bayi Rockets

*Denotes Senior National Team debut

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China National Team roster announced, Yao Ming included among 36 others

April 11, 2011

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On Friday April 8th, the Chinese Basketball Association announced the 37-player Men’s National Team roster that will train at the China National Sports Training Center in Beijing this spring in preparation for the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship.  The competition, which will be held in Henan, China from September 15-25, is the the qualifying tournament for FIBA Asia for the 2012 London Summer Olympics men’s basketball tournament.

With both the CBA and NBA seasons still in progress, the roster has been split up into three separate groups, each of which have different mandatory dates to report.  Group 1, which is comprised of 11 players whose teams did not make the CBA playoffs this season, officially reported to training yesterday afternoon.  Group 2, which has 21 players, all of whom played playoff basketball, will report sometime around May 1st, while Group 3, China’s NBA players, will join everyone at a later date.

Among the usual names like Yi Jianlin, Wang Zhizhi, and Liu Wei is Yao Ming, who despite missing most of season with a stress fracture in his left ankle was selected by the CBA to represent the National Team this summer in Beijing.  Though he’ll be required to report, Yao’s selection is almost certainly only symbolic — throughout the year the CBA has maintained they will exercise extreme caution in allowing Yao to recover from yet another serious injury, and have even implied that the big man’s National Team career could very well be over, even if his ankle heals properly.

Yao, who will spend time in China this summer, was happy after learning of his selection.

“It’s an honor to be selected to the National Team.  If my foot allows, I’ll be right there to cheer them on,” said Yao to a Chinese reporter in Houston.

Unlike in the United States and other Western countries, Chinese players are required to serve on the National Team if called upon.  Since players were raised and trained by the state, as opposed to Western players who received coaching from club teams, schools and amateur associations, the top Chinese athletes have only their country to thank for their development, and thus athletes’ priorities to their country come before those of both their professional team and themselves.  The superiority of the state over the individual in sports is one of the main cultural differences between China and the West.

The roster will be paired down in June as Team China will play a number of warm-up games in preparation for the Asia Championship.

Group 1:

Sun Jie (孙杰) Guard, Shandong*
Guo Ailun (郭艾伦), Guard, Liaoning
Yu Shulong (于澍龙) Guard, Jilin*
Zhong Cheng (钟诚) Guard, Jilin*

Liu Ziqiu (刘子秋) Forward, Shanghai
Peng Fei (彭飞), Forward, Shanghai
Duan Jiangpeng (段江鹏), Forward, Shanxi
Zhang Xuewen (张学文), Forward, Shanxi*
He Tianju (贺天举), Forward, Liaoning

Li Xiaoxu (李晓旭), Center, Liaoning*
Han Dejun (韩德君), Center, Liaoning

Group 2:

Chen Jianghua (陈江华) Guard, Guangdong
Wang Shipeng (王仕鹏) Guard, Guangdong*
Zhang Bo (张博) Guard, Bayi
Han Shuo (韩硕) Guard, Bayi
Liu Wei (刘炜) Guard, Shanghai*
Sun Yue (孙悦) Guard, Beijing Aoshen
Zhang Qingpeng (张庆鹏) Guard, Xinjiang*
Xirelijiang (西热力江) Guard, Xinjiang

Zhou Peng (周鹏) Forward, Guangdong
Zhu Fangyu (朱芳雨) Forward, Guangdong*
Dong Hanlin (董瀚麟) Forward, Guangdong
Wang Lei (王磊)Forward, Bayi
Mo Ke (莫科) Forward, Bayi*
Ding Jinhui (丁锦辉) Forward, Zhejiang Chouzhou*
Yi Li (易立) Forward, Jiangsu*
Zhang Kai (张凯) Forward, DongGuan*
Meng Duo (孟铎) Forward, DongGuan

Su Wei (苏伟) Center, Guangdong*
Wang Zhizhi (王治郅) Center, Bayi*
Zhang Zhaoxu (张兆旭) Center, Shanghai
Zhang Songtao (张松涛) Center, Beijing Aoshen

Group 3:

Yi Jianlian (易建联) Forward, Washington Wizards
Yao Ming (姚明) Center, Houston Rockets**

Reserves:

Mengke Bateer (巴特尔) Center, Xinjiang*
Tang Zhengdong (唐正东) Center, Jiangsu
Wang Zheng (王征) Center, Guangdong

* Denotes 2010-11 CBA All-Star
** Denotes 2010-11 NBA All-Star

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