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.
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
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.
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
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.
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