Guangdong Tigers (1) vs Beijing Ducks (3)
Shit, as they say, is about to get very real. It only took three games for Beijing to walk straight through Jilin (and its also worth stressing that the starters were rested for the second half of the final game) whilst Guangdong needed four attempts to put a plucky but outmatched Dongguan to the sword. Ultimately though, things went as expected and the holders of the last combined eight CBA titles will now face off for the third time in the last four years. Continue reading
It’s that time of year again, folks. The CBA play-offs are in full swing and with Shanxi involved in the mix, this can only mean one thing; absolutely massive brawls. Now longtime readers of this blog will know that the Dragons are the closest thing China has to the Oakland Raiders. Indeed, the last time they were in the play-offs, their fans rioted at least once and during one road game at Shanghai, a Shanxi assistant coach in his fifties heckled the entire Sharks arena and beckoned for particularly irate fans to climb over the railings and do something about it. But this time around, Shanxi may have painted their masterpiece. You’ve got brawling with players, fans coming down from the stands and a second mob of pissed off supporters waiting outside. There really is something for everyone in this encounter.
Shark Fin Hoops: Guangdong (3) – Dongguan (0); Liaoning (3) – Guangsha (0); Qingdao (3) – Shanxi (2); Beijing (3) – Jilin (1).
Chinese Sport Review’s David Yang: Guangdong (3) – Dongguan (0); Liaoning (3) – Guangsha (2); Qingdao (3) – Shanxi (1); Beijing (2) – Jilin (3).
One World Sport’s CBA Play by Play Announcer Scott Greene: Guangdong (3) – Dongguan (0); Liaoning (3) – Guangsha (0); Qingdao (3) – Shanxi (2); Beijing (3) – Jilin (1).
One World Sport’s CBA Play by Play Announcer Keith Irizary: Guangdong (3) - Dongguan (0); Liaoning (3) – Guangsha (0); Qingdao (2) – Shanxi (3); Beijing (3) – Jilin (1).
Basketball Buddha’s Nick Bedard: Guangdong (3) – Dongguan (0); Liaoning (3) – Guangsha (1); Qingdao (3) – Shanxi (2); Beijing (3) - Jilin (1).
Shot Suey’s Marco Catanzaro: Guangdong (3) – Dongguan (2); Liaoning (3) – Guangsha (2); Qingdao (1) – Shanxi (3); Beijing (2) – Jilin (3).
Its play-off time in the Chinese Basketball Association, which, to the league’s credit, has become more and more exciting with every season. This year, it’s an interesting mix between old hands like Guangdong, Beijing and Xinjiang and new faces like Qingdao and Jilin. The structure is fairly simple; 1st vs. 8th, 2nd vs 7th and so on, until the two remaining teams from both sides of the eight seed bracket face off in a best of seven Finals. Games start on Febuary 6th but it makes sense to first break down who is in the postseason and how they might fare.
#1 Seed: Guangdong Tigers (34-4)
For the fourth season in a row, the Tigers have finished the regular season atop of the standings. But this time around, they finished with their best ever record in the modern CBA era and won twenty-six games in a row. After initially deciding that they wanted to get younger with Emmanuel Mudiay, now it looks like Guangdong have decided to rely on veterans. Mudiay has been watching things from the sidelines since December and in his place Will Bynum (21.4ppg, 7.4apg) handles the ball whilst Yi Jianlian (27.4ppg), Zhu Fangyu (18.9ppg including 47% from downtown) and Wang Shipeng (45% from downtown) space the floor and wait for the defense to panic. Yet the big question is still the same; can the Tigers win the title again after a period of relative inconsistency (one title in three seasons having previous won seven out of eight CBA Finals between 2004-2011)? On paper, you would say ‘of course, idiot’ but this is an older team that found themselves bested in last year’s semi-finals by a Beijing side with both street smarts AND youth on their side. A year on from that painful loss, the Tigers would once again face Beijing for the third CBA postseason in four years should both teams make it to the semi-finals and the Ducks are leading the ongoing series 2-0. If and when that scenario happens, it may well be this Guangdong roster’s Waterloo moment. Continue reading
Three years ago, Errick McCollum was playing in the second tier of Israeli basketball. Last night, he scored 82 points against the Guangdong Tigers to break the record for most points in a CBA game (75, set in 2012 by Quincy Douby). That was his fourth game of 50 points or more in thirty-seven games. With one game left in the season, McCollum is averaging 39.6ppg and barring some kind of mathematical improbability, the point guard will also shatter the record for most points in a CBA season of 35.2ppg set by the former Xavier center Anthony Myles in 2006.
Another year, another CBA All-Star weekend that was okay but still probably wasn’t going to make anyone sit up and take notice. Indeed, with Chinese audiences more interested in the country’s soccer team making it three wins in a row in the Asian Cup, the CBA was in the shadows despite basketball being the traditional winter sport of the Middle Kingdom. This though was probably for the best given that for the neutrals and casual fans, the same flaws were still present and correct; naff dunk contest, crappy uniforms and more than a few empty seats in chilly Beijing.
Anyway, the most important takeaway from the whole weekend is that MICHAEL BEASLEY SCORED 59 POINTS AND WAS THE GAME’S MVP. That news again; Michael Beasley broke the CBA All-Star scoring record and in some style; step back treys, coast-to-coast dunks, alley-oops. Lovely stuff. Highlights below (obviously) but I’m still not sure if this sort of Beas related activity is good or bad for the reputation of the largest basketball league in South-East Asia. Actually, who am I kidding; its fucking great.
It was his only significant pass of the game but the fourth-quarter dish gave Hu Xuefeng 2,242 career assists and ownership of the league’s all-time record. The Jiangsu Dragons, who were missing Chris Singleton with what has since turned out to be an ACL tear, lost that game, 117-94 to Shandong but the significance of Hu’s achievement still can’t be overlooked.
It was absolutely a special moment but even the circumstances behind Hu’s claiming of the record reflects how unorthodox the Jiangsu player has been over the years. The point guard, who has played for Dragons since 1999, is now also the team’s head coach and supposed to be running things from the bench. Instead, with the team badly weakened by injuries, Hu has played for most of the season and was able to come into Wednesday’s game within touching distance of the assist record he formerly owned but had since lost to Sichuan’s Lv Xiaoming.
Like its American cousin, the women’s branch of the Chinese Basketball Association (WCBA) doesn’t really get much mainstream media coverage. Games are sparely attended or rarely reported upon and the whole thing feels like it’s just a testing ground for players trying to get into the national team. This means when a WCBA story makes the front pages, it’s either because Maya Moore (who plays in China for the Shanxi Flames) has gone off for 50+ points or because something very bad happened.
Typically though, it’s for negative reasons and lo and behold, some pretty remarkable images from the WCBA ran on Sunday’s front pages. During a game between the Zhejiang Bulls, who were on the road against the Sichuan Whales (both WCBA teams share the same nickname as their CBA counterpart), the home side’s players reacted angrily to a hard foul from the Bulls. In an already bad tempered contest, the cheap shot was enough to clear the benches and blows were exchanged.
The impression of Stephon Marbury in the West tends to be that he is universally popular in China. This is true to a certain extent in Beijing and the Ducks’ point guard has been well received for trying to live like a local in the capital city. Using the metro to get around the city or attending Beijing Guoan games might be seen by some as a PR exercise but they still represent a man who is trying to be part of his local community. Washington DC native Kevin Durant has no natural links to Oklahoma City but still goes out of his way to seem invested in OKC. Pretending to care is part of life as a top level pro athlete and the simple fact that Marbury is doing that in Beijing adds legitimacy to the Ducks and the CBA as a whole.
Having made it clear he loves Beijing, the city has quickly embraced the American as one of its’ own. Marbury obviously has been feted with that statue and that cheesy musical but he has also been asked to coach at the Rising Star game at a CBA All-Star weekend, which underlines his credibility within the league’s front office itself. But just because Beijing loves him, it doesn’t mean that the rest of China feels the same way. Continue reading