Well, its been a long year since I last blogged but Shark Fin Hoops is back and with a bigger remit. No longer just about Shanghai basketball, now there’s going to be a broader focus on the whole of the Chinese Basketball Association, partly because there isn’t enough focus on it right now but also because I appear to be an idiot and a glutton for punishment.
No Von Wafer, no problem- at least against a limited Jiangsu Dragons. The Sharks, with the injured Wafer watching from the sidelines, dug deep to dispatch the visitors as Shanghai’s improbable run up the standings continues.
Five games in, four wins on the board and life is looking remarkably rosy for the Shanghai Sharks, who now sit in fourth place in the standings after surviving a nervy third quarter to eventually overcome the Qingdao Eagles.
The Shanghai Sharks walked out of Shanxi province with a rare win at an arena they have typically struggled at, thanks in part to the sharp shooting of Von Wafer. The absence of Marcus Williams through injury certainly helped but a win is a win and the Sharks now have three of them whilst the Dragons, soon to relocate to Beijing, are on a 0-4 run and could be a ‘dead pool’ team if this run of form continues.
The Xinjiang Tigers tore the visiting Shanghai Sharks apart in what resembled less of a basketball game and more of a beat down. James Singleton, now in his fourth year in China and his third with the Tigers, confirmed that he remains one of the best two-way players in the CBA by picking up a haul of 32 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks.
The Sharks never scored more than eighteen points in a quarter and were relentlessly harried by Xinjiang into committing twenty-five turnovers during the game. Lester Hudson, who has torched the Sharks at least once a season whilst playing for Qingdao and Dongguan also went 29 + 6 with 5 steals. The stocky point guard led the Tigers on a 16 point run during the first half and there was nothing the Sharks could do to stop it.
In their game summaries, Sohu Sport gushed over Xinjang, calling their performance ‘wonderful’ whilst Sina dismissed the Sharks as ‘disinterested’ and the game as ‘a bloodbath’. Their highlights package tellingly stopped showing footage after the second quarter. Uruqi has always been a tough place for the Sharks to play and after a bad day at the office, the visitors will be looking forward to their flight back home to Shanghai.
To some up that performance…ouch.
On a night when the Sharks’ three-point shooting was again subpar at best, Shanghai went back to basics to squeak past Sichuan Blue Whale in Chengdu. Darnell Jackson was large and in charge for the visiting side and his muscle down low was a key factor in picking up a 30 + 13 double-double as the Sharks’ begin the CBA season 2-0 for the first time in several years.
A blistering thirty-five point second quarter sent the Sharks on their way to an opening day win against Fujian. The home side saw Wang Zhelin put up 35 +12 but other than himself and Delonte West’s excellent shift (30 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals), the Sturgeons lacked the firepower to keep up with the Sharks.
Despite an injury ravaged first year in the CBA, Gilbert Arenas has expressed an interest in continuing his basketball adventures in the Middle Kingdom. Speaking to reporters after the last game of the season, Arenas was very matter-of-fact on the subject; ‘if Yao Ming wanted to take me back, of course I would like to return to Shanghai’.
Shanghai’s season ended like it started- with a blow-out defeat to a team with championship ambitions as Gilbert Arenas watched it all happen from the bench. A campaign that was defined by injuries eventually (some would say mercifully) came to a close after a Liaoning team led by its vibrant backcourt duo of Josh Akognon and Guo Ailun tore the home side to pieces.
Liu Wei dropped a trey at the final buzzer to move himself over the thirty point mark for the night as the Shanghai Sharks romped home against a tired Jilin team who apart from DeWarrick Spencer played like they had conceded the game before the tip-off.