Guangdong Tigers dismantled their guests with a minimum amount of fuss tonight, calmly fashioning their chances before executing them ruthlessly in an impressive, low-key performance. To add insult to injury, Liu Wei vanished to the sidelines midway through the second quarter and was seen clutching an ice pack on his knee. Fate nor form favored the Sharks who now have slipped to 2-5 with yet another away game, this time against DongGuan Leopards to come on Friday.
Both sides looked game in the first twelve minutes and it would take until the second quarter for the difference in class to appear, although when it did it was striking and decisive. Dancing in and out of space, Aaron Brooks, the former Houston point guard picked the right moment to start making clutch threes, dropping four of them before the halftime buzzer to give his side a ten point lead. By that time Liu had already hobbled out and the writing was very much on the way for the Sharks, who hustled and chased but couldn’t get the champions out of their stride.
The third quarter, which had to belong to Shanghai for them to have a chance, was quite simply all Guangdong. Brooks, Zhou Peng and Wang Zhen had the stuff from long-range to open up a substantial lead over Shanghai and the Tigers’ impressively boring defense hoovered up most of the rebounds that came their way. The Sharks were fighting over scraps and starved of the oppotunity to build any sort of momentum, probably knew this wasn’t going to be their day well before the fourth quarter.
Garbage time duly beckoned as both sides began to pull their starters and with nothing better to do, those players still on the court took it upon themselves to blatantly foul each other frequently. Dong Hanlin had a colourful few minutes that saw a wide range of trips, hard fouls and clotheslines and there will be several Shanghai players who will be looking forward to getting their elbows on him when the Tigers visit the Yuanshen later this season.
The game finished with a last gasp sprint to the basket by Meng Lingyuan, but all the guard’s lay up did was reduce the margin of Guangdong’s victory by a couple of points; a veritable drop in the ocean in the grand scheme of things. The Tigers won 95-76. It wasn’t pretty basketball by anyone’s taste but it was another win for Guangdong in their title defense and quest to get five CBA crowns in a row. Brooks made 24 points, Wang got 14, and Zhou made himself 13. RFK made a battling 21 points but his side couldn’t overcome a very classy, very competent team. Shanghai fought hard but against experienced teams with long-established squads, heart can’t win games by itself and tonight’s game was a prime example.
Photo: Sina Sports