Shandong Lions are the next side to roll into the Yuanshan, having just snapped a three-game losing streak with a 108-100 victory over Foshan Dralions in Round 18.
The Lions are in the middle of an erratic 7-10 season (2-6 on the road) but have the personnel to cause the Sharks real problems as demonstrated by their 98-95 OT win against Shanghai back in Round 2. Alan Anderson, averaging 23.3 ppg, is the go-to man in the team but the physicality and deft shooting of Othello Hunter (17.9 ppg, 13.2rpg) will also be an issue. The Chinese duo of Sun Jie and Sui Ran were also a constant problem to the Sharks when the teams last meet in Jinan and will need to be dealt with carefully.
This will see the top defense in the league play against the second best (Shanghai average only 89.2 points conceded per game whilst Shandong are at 93.8) and this, combined with the fact that both teams have statistically weak offenses, mean that this probably isn’t going to be 120-122 point shoot-out or a one-sided blow out.
The closeness of the previous meeting plus the fact that both teams have tricky players who can change the course of a game mean that only the form book separates the two sides when it comes to trying to guess the winner. The Sharks, who have won eight out of their last nine games, will be marginal favorites but can’t afford to make the mistakes of the previous game against Qingdao.