Another road game, another hard defeat, another ‘what-might-been?’ result, another missed opportunity for some much-needed positivity . Shanghai Sharks fell to their second successive defeat in a game which had flashes of hope before being ultimately quashed in the cruelest of fashions.
Mike Harris was dynamite, dialing up thirty-nine points and eighteen rebounds in a huge performance whilst around him, four other teammates also scored double digits. Make no mistake, Shanghai can do some damage but for all their fire power, need to realise that there is no glory in coming out swinging if you still get carried off on a stretcher at the end of the fight.
Shangdong raced into a 27-20 lead by the end of the first quarter as Alan Anderson rained shots down from all over the court and the signs looked ominous for the Sharks who couldn’t get going on either side of the court.
Step forward Harris, who along with Zhang Zhaoxu, took it upon themselves to justify their paychecks and set about making up the deficit. Anderson continued to make his shots and Sui Ran had no qualms pinging in threes when given the chance but by half time, Harris and Zhang had hustled and harried their way to a combined twenty-seven points and seventeen rebounds, leaving Shanghai down by only a point, as the Lions led 51-50.
With both coaches aware that their sides couldn’t lose against a similarly matched side, the third quarter resembled an offesnive free-for-all. For every big heave from downtown by Sui or Sun Jie, Harris would find a way to earn a free-throw or find an open look for a team-mate. It was relentless stuff and in Harris and Anderson, both teams had settled on their go-to guy that would make or break the game for them as the sides began the fourth quarter with Shandong up 73-72.
The flurry of offensive continued as the game ticked away. Liu Wei briefly led the Sharks into an 79-75 led before Othello Hunter helped restore parity. Zhang and Shangdong’s Tao Hanlin among others, took it in turns to steal the advantage for their side before eventually, Shanghai found themselves with a golden opportunity to take the victory when Harris made a crucial extra-point to give the Sharks an 89-87 lead with twenty seconds on the clock.
Yet, Shanghai were doomed to repeat the problems of the previous game. Hunter made the basket (obviously) and Harris, already the player of the game, just couldn’t rescue his team at the death. Anderson got his hands up and got the crucial block and the game was tied at 89-a-piece. Overtime.
Tragically but inevitably, the writing was on the wall for the Sharks so I’ll make it quick. Sun, Anderson and Sui combined to get the baskets and when the buzzer sounded, Shanghai found themselves 98-95 to the bad. Once again, through bad luck and a poor start, Shanghai return to their hotel with the knowledge of what could have been…