Shanghai are now at 0-6 on the road after a typically battling, hardworking performance that saw the obligatory top drawer performances from Ryan Forehan-Kelly and Mike Harris but the Sharks couldn’t cope with the strength and guile of former Shark, Zaid Abbas. The Jordanian didn’t put on a huge score but galvanised his team with an eye-catching performance that kept a passionate home crowd on their feet.
Fujian went ahead in a big way as early as five minutes into the first quarter when Abbas starting weaving his way past his marker for lay ups or dishing it out for his team mates to score themselves. The end result was a ten point lead that the Sharks somehow immediately erased thanks to the hard work of RFK, and Shanghai instead found themselves up 22-21.
The second quarter belonged to Fujian and this time there was no Sharks comeback. Abbas was merciless when he got close to the rim and when the ball wasn’t in his hands, Lo Yi Ting and Gong Songlin had the accuracy from downtown to make the Sharks pay. A buzzer beater, inevitably a three-pointer, from Zhao Tailong sent Fujian in at the halftime break, 52-45.
Fujian continued to pound the Sharks after the break and this time, towering centre Will McDonald was up to no good, rebounding hard and making his chances when he could. With Harris and RFK working in tandem along with Meng Lingyuan, the Sharks were never out of it but the Sturgeons remained in front 74-66.
Come the final quarter, Harris achieved the remarkable feat of silencing the vocal home crowd after the Sharks had spent most of it slowly eat up the scoring deficit. The former Houston Rocket’s effort from way out now made it 89-87 with four minutes left and set up a frantic spell of complete chaos.
To sum it all up, Fujian made it 95-90 after McDonald fired home and RFK replied with a three. Wu Yang made one of his two free-throws to make it 94-91 only for Lo to bring the clock down to fourteen seconds before missing his shot from a distance. Harris then failed to make his own three pointer in the face of his marker and it looked like it was game over for the Sharks.
A heavy foul by Harris after the restart meant that the Sturgeons had two free-throws at the other end. Zhou converted one to make it 95-91 only for RFK to get two free-throws (I couldn’t see what happened due to the implausibly bad camera work from the game) which he duly made, and the score was now 95-93 with the ball still with the Sharks for a restart in the Sturgeons’ half of the court. With a millisecond or two left, Harris hoisted the ball high and wide to confirm the inevitable. Shanghai came mighty close to pull off an epic comeback but failed in the last moment.
RFK finished on 31 points whilst Harris made 18 and Meng got himself 15 points. Another valiant defeat for a side that have sacks full of fighting spirit but no luck. The return of Bob Donewald beckons on Wednesday and he’s bringing with him Kenyon Martin and the Xinjiang Tigers. Another frustrating defeat on the road was not the best preparation for such a reunion and Coach Panaggio will be no doubt telling his side as much as they fly back to Shanghai .