Guangsha Lions: 72- Shanghai Sharks: 75

A dominant Wilson Chandler looked value for money, albeit in a preseason game, as he rained thirty-six points down on Shanghai but his team mates, baring Lin Zhijie, who scored seventeen points, had little interest in joining the party. As a result, the Sharks’ considerably less heralded pair of Americans, Mike Harris and Ryan Kelly conspired to do the dirty on Zhejiang, scoring nineteen and fourteen points respectively, consistently making the big shots when it counted and leading their team to a close victory in a lively encounter.

With the lead changing hands throughout the game amidst ferocious defending from both sides, the key factor was who was going to take their chances and Zhejiang’s reliance on their new star forward ultimately became their downfall. Kelly, on trial with the Sharks, was particularly fired up, silencing the home crowd midway through the first quarter, firstly with a big three under pressure only to follow it up with a monstrous dunk that would take Shanghai into the second quarter with a 16-13 lead.

Harris, coming in from the bench, also played his part in helping dampen the flames of Chandler’s faultless one-man assault, making two successful shots from inside the paint to keep the Shanghai within distance of the Lions. His useful partnership with Kelly continued, as the latter twice put away vital opportunities from the field and help their team squeak into halftime break up by a point.

Zhejiang came out to fight after the break, and the physicality of the Shanghai’s previous game with Guandong reappeared as both teams suddenly remembered that most of them were at least two meters tall and built like brick shit houses. Cue a couple of rough challenges and free-throws as Tseng Wen-ting and Lin both found themselves making sudden appointments with the court side physio amidst the mayhem, slowing down any of Zhenjiang’s momentum as the Sharks gradually extened their lead to lead 60-54 going into the last quarter.

Finally realising that they couldn’t put it all on the back of one player, the Lions players not called  Wilson Chandler started looking for the ball, and with time slipping away, Lin emerged from the bench to drill a couple of three pointers and suddenly the home crowd had a game to cheer for. Chandler, still on the floor and clocking up the points, added a couple more to his haul and the Sharks were in real danger of being swept away by the momentum until Kelly showed a deft veteran’s presence to slow proceedings down as the seconds ebbed away before picking up a free-throw with less than a minute to go. Burying both and crucially leaving no time to overhaul the deficit, Shanghai let the clock fade into nothing and with that, brought home a victory that was deserved but never entirely guaranteed.

Conclusions That Can Be Drawn

Quite simply, the return of Mike Harris and the efforts of trialist Ryan Kelly brought home the bacon for Shanghai. Without them, Wilson Chandler would have had the game sown up for Zhejiang by the second quarter. Baring getting caught in a room full of whores, drugs and WWII-era Japanese war criminals, Kelly should have done enough to get at least another look by the Sharks and probably a contract to boot.Players with CBA experience might not have been the best players back home in the States but they know the limitations, playing style and mentality of their Chinese team mates, as well as presumably a little Mandarin for communication purposes, and a one-two punch like this may well pay dividends as the season progresses. Liu Ziqiu’s eleven points was useful in what became a backs-to-wall effort towards the end and he will be good value coming off the bench (Zhang Zhaoxu and Tseng Weng-ting will presumably be first choice at centre/power forward). All in all, a pleasing day at the office, methinks.

Game Notes:


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