With the Chinese New Year about to start, its time to talk losing streaks, play off places, JR Smith and hometown bad ass players in another installment of the CBA Web Chat.
AC: Well it looks like both our teams are in spectacular funks right now. Shanghai are on a three game losing streak whilst the Lions are in the same situation but with four games down the toilet, right?
EB: There’s lot’s of struggles all around. I’m starting to worry about Guangsha’s funk. I sit in the first row behind the bench at their home games and they are having trouble playing as a team. I think Wilson [Chandler] and PJ [Ramos] are frustrated that they are relied upon so heavily and I also have a feeling that Wilson is battling some nagging injuries and wants to stay healthy for the NBA season, because let’s face it, he has millions of reasons to be cautious.
AC: For sure. Is the crowd starting to turn on their team or is everyone still singing from the same hymn sheet?
EB: Their last home game was a week ago so we’ll see when they get back. The GM, who is the very feisty looking woman who sits on their bench, is also very frustrated
AC: What can Coach Cleamons do to change things; by the sound of things, its down to the players now?
EB: The Chinese players need to play with more confidence instead of when they get behind in a game, praying that Wilson and PJ can bring them back. Jin has been out and Lin hasn’t been able to hit the broad side of a barn recently.
AC: Shanghai are in a similar bad situation, although two of those losses were on the road and the other was against Guangdong. You’ve seen the Sharks move up from the bottom end of the table- do you think this is it for them now or can they still make the play offs?
EB: I think they will make it. I’m sure Marcus Landry is still jet lagged and he and his new team still need to learn to play together. Also, is Mike Harris is injured?
AC: There was a death in his family. It happened before the Jilin game and he didn’t tell anyone and played on. He went home before the Guangdong game.
EB: Any word when he is coming back?
AC: I got the impression he will be back for Dongguan but whenever he does, the crowd will be vocal. They love him in the Yuanshen and something like a death in the family puts everything in perspective. They’ll probably cheer him everytime he touches the ball.
This probably has relevancy to the NBA in its reduced formwat this season too, but previously high-flying teams like Beijing are still in erratic form and now Guangsha and Shanghai are in real lulls- what do you think spark these runs or is every case unique?
EB: Teams become complacent, and their opponents have a chance to do a lot of scouting and watch a lot of tape. Then there are injuries. Its the ups and downs of a basketball season, which is why it’s so exciting.
AC: Well, not if you a Guanghsa, Beijing or Shanghai fan. These next few games are going to be painful. Looking at the play-off run in, who do you think we should look out for besides the obvious names to make the play offs?
EB: Firstly, wouldn’t it be wild if after all the pre-season and early season talk, Xinjiang missed out?
AC: For sure. I don’t think they can ride that home record to a top eight finish place. They might not make it unless they become a bit more ruthless on the road.
EB: I also think Qingdao will make it behind Lester Hudson, but that’s a hunch. I think they’ll overhaul Fujian and contend for one of the top spots.
AC: That’s a interesting call. I don’t want to sound like a bandwagon jumper but Hudson and Osama Daghlas look excellent when they get going. For what its worth, I think Shanxi look legit as well. I think they’ll be trouble for anyone if they get in. I know they’ve got a crazy owner and a slight reliance on their two Americans but they are seriously slick.
EB: Shanxi will make it, but Marcus Williams deserves a lot of the credit this season. He has been unbelievably efficient this season. I have to look twice at his gamelog because I’m curious if it’s even real, but he’s shooting over 80% from three and and 67% on all other fgs according to eurobasket.
AC: Yeah, I had a look myself recently. Its NBA Jam-esqe stuff. Do you think Zhejiang Bulls are going to get a spot?
EB: I think they will but Smith, like Chandler, is another player I would watch as the end of the CBA season approaches and they return to the NBA- he needs to stay healthy to get that next contract. He probably won’t be doing anything too wild now, especially with his sister getting into an altercation recently.
AC: Yeah, i saw it. I think it was interesting that JR Smith has got himself all this attention. It hasn’t felt like K-Mart and Chandler have all this exposure. There does seem to be a bit of a circus going on whenever JR is involved.
EB: Kinda represents his style of play and his erratic way of doing things. He’s just a crazy dude.
AC: When Smith leaves, I think his departure will put a dozen writers out of work. There seems to be a cottage industry based around churning out stories about ‘ JR Smith doing [x]‘. Could the club have protected him more or is this just ”JR being JR’, so to speak?
EB: They probably should have had some preventative measures in place. If they did their homework on him, they would know that he attracts a lot of attention
AC: Alright, last question. Last night, James Singleton decided he was going to bait a capacity Yuanshen crowd in the final quarter of the game and seemed to be revelling in the boos like a heel in a WWE event. For your money, who is the best or most notable villain in the CBA?
EB: I can’t remember who it was, but one of Shanghai’s Chinese players was doing the cocking motion (as if he had a gun) after making a shot, and then putting his hand to his ear because he wanted to hear the crowd.
AC: I’m still really curious to work out who that Shanghai player was. They all seem like such nice young boys who’d help old ladies across the road and always open doors for people. It wasn’t a small guard with light hair and a hefty fringe was it? [I'm thinking of Meng Lingyuan because this sounds exactly like the sort of thing he'd could do when he gets his obligatory fourth quarter adrenaline rush- AC]
EB: I don’t think so. The crowd absolutely hated your short bald guy, although I might be totally wrong and it could have been in the previous game.
AC: I think so- all of our guys are impressively hirsute; they’ve all got the regulation floppy cut. It’s like a K-Pop band strolled out onto the court at times [It is probably Shandong Lions, who were the previous visitors to Hangzhou before Shanghai came to town. The player in question is Sun Jie, who is unquestionably a pest of a player- AC].
EB: On the flipside, PJ is fantastic at getting the crowd going. He will flex and shout after a dunk, and wave his hands in the air to get the crowd on its feet.
AC: I think its written into Harris’ contract that he has to do the same in Shanghai. Tseng Wen-ting is also a kind of a cult hero here. He’s a towering bear of a man with a huge ponytail, massive beard and a nice line in dropping big threes. Its a shame he’s such a nice guy because when you look like Genghis Khan, which he absolutely does, I’d like to see him indulge in some merciless posterising of unsuspecting opposition players and other general bad ass’ery. That said, I also absolutely think its Ramos’ destiny to stay in the CBA and blossom into this force of nature who doesn’t care about what you think. It would be fantastic; baiting crowds, shouting the odds, dunking on people because he can- marvelous.
EB: I don’t think he has any intentions of trying to make it in the NBA, and I’ve been told he could definitely make a team but that he likes it here [in Hangzhou].
AC: Lets hope Ramos is still flexing the guns and terrifying away fans for years to come. Anyway, last week it was cheerleaders, this week its James Singleton and PJ Ramos. Times changes real quick. Have a good holiday, sir.
EB: Thanks. You too.