With another round of games in the books, the first month of the 2014/15 Chinese Basketball Association is almost at an end. Liaoning remain top of the standings but much of the rest of the league have changed places in just seven days. All of that means another look at the key stories of the week are in order. This time around, it’s a player who could have been an NBA star, two American cult heroes in China and the trouble with CBA teams (not) doing their paperwork.
The Bayi Rockets won their first game of the season yesterday against Metta World Peace and the Sichuan Whales, 110-107. It was a victory coming against a developing Sichuan roster that has only been in the league for two seasons but even then, the Rockets needed some help from a legend. Having supposedly been retired, Wang Zhizhi made his season debut against the Whales, scoring 12 points whilst going 5-of-10 from the field. Thankfully for Rockets fans, the team has the all-important first win but some within Chinese basketball are asking if it was worth dragging one of their most beloved players on the court to do it. Continue reading
Well that was quick.
So with seven games of the season played, the Shanghai Sharks announced that they have cut Delonte West due to various injury issues. The former Fujian player, who had averaged 26.2 points, 5.6 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals in 2013, had struggled since moving to the Yuanshen. In five appearances, he was going for a disappointing 10 points and 1.2 assists a game before the axe fell yesterday. The Sharks, who are at 1-6 for the season and very much a team in rebuild mode, probably won’t care too much given that it will mean more minutes for twenty-four year old Ge Yang to develop.
Another round of games, another week of story lines. This time around its the struggles of a CBA legend, one of China’s oldest teams in turmoil, another mishandling a young star and China’s next great big man™ is emerging on the horizon in Xinjiang.
In his first game for UC Riverside (go Highlanders, etc) last week, Chris Tang, a Chinese point guard born in Nanjing, would play five minutes, pick up a foul and an assists and that was pretty much it. For a player that was once being dubbed the mainland’s Jeremy Lin, this was not a great look. For Chinese basketball as a whole however, given a little of time, this might just work out.
Indeed, the very fact that another Chinese-born is now playing in high(ish) level college basketball in America can only be a good thing. The CBA- for all the chest puffing it has been exhibiting in recent weeks due to the ‘CBA20′ celebrations to commemorate the league’s twentieth anniversary- is still in desperate need of fresh ideas. Wang Zhelin is obviously seen as the next great Chinese NBA player but given the size of the country’s basketball playing population, the harsh reality is that the Fujian big man should not be China’s only viable candidate for the big time.
With the first week of the CBA in the books, its time to go over this first batch of games and extract the story lines and key issues that have emerged. A new scoring champion may well have announced himself in northern China, rebounding might suddenly be cool in the south-east and wherever a game is getting played in the CBA, the standard of defending is probably very, very bad.
Its early days but the makings of a Hollywood screenplay started to possibly get written in eastern China on Sunday afternoon. Losing badly to the Guangsha Lions on the road, the Bayi Rockets’ veteran head coach Adiljan looked down the bench and called out a player’s name. There is a slight murmur around the arena as people pick up on what is going on. Bayi’s starting point guard Tian Yuxing is beckoned over to the bench and the substitute is sent into the fray. At seventeen and playing in his first professional game, everything is moving a little too quickly for him. In fifteen minutes of play, he will shot 3-of-5 from the field for 7 points but also pick up 5 fouls and turn the ball over twice. It doesn’t matter too much though given that it is garbage time and the Rockets are on the way to getting blown out 128-86 by an inspired Guangsha Lions. The manner of the defeat is embarrassing but at least one silver lining for the new Rockets player is that his dad got to see him play his first professional game in person. What makes it more special though is that it would be the old man himself, Adiljan, that gave him his first start in the league. Continue reading
With the CBA set to start on Sunday, November 1st, CBA teams are gearing up for another season of wall-to-wall basketball. Having dealt with the bottom half of the league last week, now its time to look at the teams who will be expected to compete for play-off sports and ultimately vie for the title itself.
With the Chinese Basketball Association starting on November 1st, basketball in the country is starting to slowly come back to life. By now teams have filled their rosters with free agents from both inside and outside of China and its now probably the best time to assess the quality of each of the twenty teams in the newly expanded league. This of course being China, fortunes can change very quickly for some organizations depending on the overseas players they brought in (or didn’t) and which local players managed to improve over the summer break. In the first of two segments, its time to look at the bottom half of the league based on the information that’s been available for much of the last couple of months. Continue reading
Matt Beyer is currently the only westerner who is licensed to work as a sports agent in China. His company, Altius Culture, which Beyer founded and for whom he is its’ managing director, remains a critical access point for many America players looking to play in the Chinese Basketball Association. He was also a color commentator on Chinese television for the 2014 NBA finals. Before arriving in China, he spent time with the Milwaukee Bucks as the chief translator with Yi Jianlian.