Uh-oh. The Guangdong Tigers are in town and they sure mean business. The defending champions since the 2007-2008 season (!), are arriving in the Yuanshen on a six game winning streak overall (!), are averaging 103ppg away from home(!) and are on a three game winning streak on the road having put on 41 points in the fourth quarter to dispose of Tianjin in the previous game (!).
When the sides last met in Donguan, the Sharks won comfortably, 95-76, and viewers on TV will remember the cool, menacing fashion in which the Tigers went about their business. Now, with their point guard, Aaron Brooks in excellent form (they also have talented youngster Chen Jianghua on the bench), their reliable Chinese scorers Zhu Fangyu, Wang Shipeng and Peng Zhou, plus the former Xinjiang forward, James Singleton, having all been clicking together at just the right time. The team, currently 19-4, look set to finish the regular season in first place barring a complete disaster.
The Sharks, needing to find a win somewhere, will be hoping that they can catch the Tigers off guard and will certainly believe that this is possible. Being 9-1 at home, still boasting the best defense in the league despite the two recent losses and knowing that the Yuanshen is going to be packed for the visit of a big team, the Sharks have more than a punchers chance.
However, like Liaoning last night, the Tigers will be bringing a range of attacking options to the game and Shanghai will have to be on top form to keep things close. Meng Lingyuan will be looking forward to seeing Dong Hanlin again after the two men clashed repeatedly in a rambunctious fourth quarter back when the sides last meant, but the entire Sharks team will need to share the guard’s passion for revenge if Shanghai are to get a win. Victory is possibly but it will take a big night from everyone.