With the CBA about to plunge into the last ten games of the regular season, its time for another chat on the big issues of the day, and failing that, another chance to speculate at just how bonkers playing for the Xinjiang Tigers must be.
AC: First and foremost, the Sharks played the Lions on Sunday; we obviously both had an interest in that game. You were in the Hangzhou Gymnasium itself, what was your take?
EB: Shanghai got out to a quick start and did a good job of maintaining their intensity throughout the game. I thought Guangsha might take advantage of the fact that shanghai would be trying to incorporate Marcus Landry but they were unable to. Shanghai forced Wilson Chandler into a 8-23 night and forced PJ Ramos to pass it out of the post with their double teams.
AC: Indeed. I was impressed at how the defense stood up to the Guangsha line-up. The Lions were averaging 100+ points a game but the Sharks stuck to the game plan and held on.
EB: Guangsha had an opportunity to widdle the lead to either 5 or 4 with a defensive stand followed by a bucket at the end of the second but instead, Shanghai scored and Guangsha didn’t. They also got off to a poor start in third with two TO’s and Shanghai was about to extend their lead. From then on they were putting in a lot of effort to come back and for a while it seemed like they would eventually get there but Mike Harris kept hitting timely jumpers
AC: For sure. Harris was red hot in that game. Let’s talk about your overseas players though- at one point, Guangsha had a free throw and as I’m watching on TV, the camera turned to Chandler and Ramos in their own backcourt, with their hands on their knees, talking to each other and looking massively pissed off in general. Do you think the strain of this bad run is starting to wear their big players down?
EB: Their opponents are starting to figure out how to defend them and Guangsha need some of their role players to step up because that’s when they are most dangerous. Chandler and Ramos, as good as they are, can’t do it alone. Sometimes the Chinese players have the tendency to stand and watch Wilson and PJ and will pass up open shots.
AC: Yeah, other than Jin Lipeng and Chieh, it didn’t look like anyone else had much initiative. Has Coach Cleamons talked about changing this or is it something that players have to resolve themselves?
EB: He’s talked about trusting one another and that trust only comes with time. They can’t rely on Lipeng too much since he is so old and doesn’t have much left. As a team, the harsh reality right now is that the Lions have lost 3 of 4 and their lone win came on a buzzer beater they need a game where everyone is clicking to get their confidence back.
AC: Do you think the fans will give them time or are they starting to get anxious?
EB: They’re getting anxious, but I think they’ll be ok. Cleamons has always said they are a work in progress. Perhaps that win streak spoiled some people.
AC: Well, from a Shanghai point of view, that was a huge game. The Sharks needed that and we’ve got a useful stretch of home games coming up. The fanbase in Shanghai has to come out for this team now because a play off spot is a real possibility.
Anyway, let’s move on. In our first webchat, I asked if things could get any worse for Xinjiang following the departures of Bob Donewald and Kenyon Martin. Impressively, they have now that Patrick Mills has been released. What on earth is going on over there?
EB: Beats the hell out of me. It sounds like a really intense environment for a basketball team and the pressure and the expectations must be overbearing.
AC: Are you buying the team’s accusation that he was faking an injury?
EB: I’m not going to accuse anyone of faking anything but maybe he was going to miss three weeks and Xinjiang couldn’t wait that long [Mills has since come out and strongly rejected the suggestion, claiming that the Tigers doctors were trying to rush him back into the team. It’s a difficult position for a player like Mills to be in; does he play injured and risk further injury? If he gets seriously injured he could potentially be out of the market for his next contract. Who knows what really went down. We do know that Xinjiang has proven to be erratic and that’s a very aggressive thing to say about a player (that he’s faking). I’m sure his hamstring hurt and he wanted to let it fully heal but already struggling, maybe their management told him he had to play right away
AC: We’ll see what reprocussion this has on Xinjiang next season because if i was an overseas player, I’d have to get an eye watering offer to even think about going to to a club where the big name manager and two prominent overseas players are sacked or buy out their contracts midway through the regular season.
EB: Yup. they aren’t doing themselves any favors
AC: We should probably talk about Guangdong for a second; they went all out on Qingdao in the last round and put 120+ points on the board with an eye watering seven players making double figures. Do you think they’ve peaked too soon or is this a sign of things to come for the rest of the CBA?
EB: Guangdong has done it for years. There’s no reason to think they won’t continue to play well. They have a proven system and are confident. They have what Guangsha needs — for their chinese players to be confident
AC:Finally, I noticed that the Guangsha cheerleaders were pretty attractive when I was watching the game on TV. Are you ready to go out on a limb and say their the hottest cheerleaders in the cba?
EB: Hah! They have a few head turners. Absolutely, I’ll say it; they are the hottest in the CBA. I want to know who picks out their outfits and songs they dance to- one of them is “I wanna see your PeaCock” by Katy Perry.
AC: Over in Shanghai, we prefer more slow, tasteful pieces like ‘Shots’ by noted Western intellectuals, LMAO. To avoid suggustions of a bias to the south, I’m also at pains to point out that having seen the cheerleading squads from Jillin and Xinjiang on TV, I’d happy to confirm that I’m a big fan of their work as well. Anyway, that’s our journalistic intregity blown to pieces for another week. Ned, once again, its been a pleasure.
EB: Talk to you soon
AC: No worries. Enjoy your bye round.
EB: We need it!