The Best Kept Secret In Chinese Basketball Keeps Reaching Milestones

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Despite playing in their bad ass throwbacks to celebrate the anniversary of the CBA, the Guangdong Tigers managed to lose to a seemingly unstoppable Liaoning Jaguars team that moved on to 10-0 in the standings. Guangdong’s 116-112 home defeat was obviously not a good look but this is a veteran team that know they are going to the play-offs anyway and will laugh off the loss as one of those things. Indeed the dressing room, though unlikely to be filled with balloons and cake to celebrate the result, would still have been a more upbeat place than normal because of the history that had just been made on the court. Zhu Fangyu, the Tigers starting small forward scored 34 points on the night and it was enough to take him over the 10,000 point mark for his career. A special event for the player, it is also a huge landmark for the CBA itself. Zhu had long been the league’s leading scorer but his achievement against Liaoning represents another line in the sand for a player who has basically been China’s most reliable shooter for almost a decade.

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The Sad, Sorry Spectacle Of Wang Zhizhi Won’t Go Away

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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

Chris Tang And The Silent Winds Of Change In Chinese Basketball

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In his first game for UC Riverside (go Highlanders, etc) last week, Chris Tang, a Chinese point guard born in Nantong, 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.

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Arslan and Adiljan; How Two Generations Of Point Guard Are Trying To Save China’s Greatest Team

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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

Shark Fin Hoops CBA Preseason Power Rankings: 11 – 20

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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

Yi Jianlian, Chinese Heroes And The Trouble With Their Childrens’ Passports

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Despite the upcoming CBA season on the horizon, Yi Jianlian probably has other things on his mind. The current poster boy of Chinese basketball is a father for the first time (and presumably the only time under the country’s one-child policy) after his wife, Jing Ling gave birth to a son a couple of days ago. This would normally be a chance for celebration but instead a mini-scandal is underway in China about the identity of a child who is barely a week old.

The root of the trouble appears to be where the baby was born as Yi’s wife reportedly gave birth to their son in a hospital in Los Angeles. This is not uncommon and it is estimated that 10,000 children were born to Chinese parents in American hospitals in 2012. However, the costs of getting to that point; securing a visa, comfortable flights for a heavily pregnant woman and up to three months of private maternity care can cost upwards of $50,000, meaning that only the wealthy in China can go through this process.

More significantly though, US law also allows children born within its borders to become automatic citizens; a very attractive bonus for prospective Chinese parents. Yet China does not allow dual citizenship, meaning that those same parents must choose whether their child is technically American or from the mainland. Given the lengths it took to get the mother into America to give birth, the Chinese passport is almost never the one taken. Yi and Jing Ling, a former beauty queen turned model, are not the first prominent couple to go through this process but Yi’s status in China means that things have not be received well by people on the ground.

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Yao Ming’s Private War With The ‘Third Foreigner’

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Since his return to China after retiring from the NBA, there arguably hasn’t been a more fascinating figure in Chinese basketball than Yao Ming (seen here towering over  7″3 center, Zhang Zhaoxu). As owner of the Shanghai Sharks, the team he bought in 2009, he has been given an opportunity to air his opinions on the state of the CBA. This, along with his massive popularity in China and abroad, has given him a unique platform to assert influence on Chinese basketball; something he has done in a very measured but noticeable way.

Indeed, the big man has shown himself to be a dab hand at maneuvering within the various state institutions that have reached out to him since his return to the mainland. Besides the CBA, Yao has been a part of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), an essentially ceremonial body that is supposed to aid the Chinese Communist Party in drafting policy and laws. Yao though knows the game he is playing; the CPPCC need a famous face like his to give it legitimacy in the eyes of the Chinese public and in exchange Yao has used it to promote his own special interests such as animal preservation and ivory poaching in Africa. His CPPCC involvement, plus his hands-on running of the Sharks (he attends every home game and has been known to supervise training), completing his final year of university studies and an ownership of a winery at a time when the Chinese middle class spends millions of dollars each year on expensive alcohol has led to the internet joke; ‘does Yao ever sleep?Continue reading

More Teams, More Questions; Breaking Down The CBA’s Latest Expansion

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League expansion is happening and Jiangsu Tongxi and the Chongqing Flying Dragons are set to become the newest additions to the CBA, bumping up the number of association members to twenty. It marks another big day for the Chinese Basketball Association, who after years of not altering the league’s format, made sweeping rule changes this summer and have added three teams in less than twelve months (the other team, the Sichuan Blue Whales were promoted last year).

On a short-term level, this will mean more playing opportunities for local players in China’s biggest league and in theory a stronger pool of talent for the national team to draw on. On a broader scale, it also says a lot about the CBA’s bullish new attitude to building up the league and having teams in as many large urban areas in the country as possible.

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Foreigners And The Fourth Quarter; Making Sense Of The New CBA Rule Change

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So it looks like it will be official. After a lot of speculation, the Chinese Basketball Association will once again change its rules about the participation of foreign players in the league as it looks to shift the emphasis of the league away from American hero ball and towards a style of play that will involve local players more often.

Previously, teams were allowed to play both its foreigners for a combined six quarters, typically meaning each split a quarter in the first half and then play for the whole of the second. Under new proposals that will be applied with immediate effect, there will only be one foreigner allowed to play for the fourth quarter. Both foreigners will be able to play but they will have to sub out for one-another. Continue reading