Niubball man, Edward Bothfeld is back, this time with a look at the Sharks’ unlikely victory over Guangsha from a Lions fan’s perspective
The Guangsha Lions entered Sunday’s match-up against Shanghai in a rut. They had lost two of their last three with their lone victory coming on a buzzer beater. One more loss and their recent play would send the Guangsha loyals into a full-fledged panic. Shanghai, on the other hand, is in a transition period. After losing Ryan Forehan-Kelly to a season-ending Achilles injury last week, newly signed Marcus Landry would be making his debut.
Prior to the game, he certainly seemed like he just got off the plane, “I have only been here for two days. I’m looking forward to gelling into the system. I’m not sure yet if I’m starting, we’ll find out.”
Marcus Landry did start the game and helped Shanghai get out to a quick 13-2 lead. Guangsha was unable to get into an offensive rhythm early and Wilson Chandler managed only 3 first-quarter points. Coach Jim Cleamons subbed P.J. Ramos in for him with three minutes remaining (he usually waits until the quarter) in the hopes he would provide a spark. Instead, he committed turnovers on his first two possessions and the quarter ended with Shanghai leading 25-12.
Guangsha regained their sense of urgency in the second quarter behind the shooting of Jin Lipeng and energy of Lin Chih-Chieh. However, Shanghai countered with Mike Harris, who put his mid-range game on display while scoring 12 first-half points. Chandler returned for the final three minutes of the half and dished out a few assists, but Guangsha still entered half time down 40-49.
Shanghai remained the aggressor to start the second half; forcing Guangsha to commit a shot clock violation followed by a turnover on their first two possessions and scoring 7 unanswered to extend their lead to 16. Shanghai maintained their double-digit lead for the remainder of the third.
Down 16 early in the fourth and obviously frustrated, Chandler and Ramos implored their teammates to trust themselves and shoot the ball during a timeout. Guangsha’s Chinese players sometimes get in the habit of standing and watching Chandler and Ramos do all of the heavy lifting – especially when they are behind. It was too little too late; Chandler and Ramos mounted a comeback attempt on their own. After hitting a deep three, Chandler became fired up, pounding his chest and shouting. He hit another three on the next possession that brought the crowd alive and closed the gap to 72-82.
After another Chandler three (he was 4-7 from downtown on the night), the score was 82-86. But every time Guangsha got within striking distance, Mike Harris and Marcus Landry seemed to have an answer, repeatedly making crowd-silencing shots. Ultimately, Shanghai held their composure and earned a big road victory, 97-88.
After the game Shanghai’s coach praised his team, “a great win for us. I thought we did a great job defensively. I thought we contained Wilson Chandler and we played good team defense on Ramos. I told the guys before the game one might expect a letdown after a long home stand, but it was anything but that.”
Chandler led Guangsha with 23 points on only 8 of 23 shooting. Mike Harris finished with 29 points 9 rebounds, and 5 steals, while his new teammate Marcus Landry completed his debut with 12 points on 4 of 14 shooting.
“His shots will start falling when he gets more comfortable where and when he is going to get his shots,” said Sharks coach, Daniel Panaggio.
Cleamons acknowledged his team’s struggles. “The cycle we are going through now where teams are figuring out how to defend us. We’re not playing that badly, but we have to step our game up to the next level. If we don’t make the extra pass, we will continue to struggle.”
Shanghai will continue their road-trip and play Jilin on Wednesday, while Guangsha will have time to lick their wounds and make things right during a Round 23 bye.