With the Chinese New Year break about to kick in, the Sharks will be playing the second ranked team in the CBA, the 16-8 (6-6 on the road), Dongguan Leopards, who comprehensively beat Shanghai in their earlier encounter back in December and the Leopards have strung together a six-game winning streak with little to no hype. The home side must win this game to retain a winning record going into the brief break in basketball for New Year festivities.
The crucial factors behind the Leopards big push towards the top of the table has been their overseas duo of shooting guard, Josh Akognon, (26.3 ppg) and small forward, Shavlik Randolph (24 ppg, 12.3 rpg). To put the importance of the Dongguan duo into context, Qiu Biao, the third highest scorer for their team is averaging only 13.2ppg.
This is a tough game for the Sharks and predictably the tiresome moaning about Coach Panaggio’s triangle offence has reappeared just in time for Wednesday’s game. There has to be a strong third quarter and things can’t just go through Marcus Landry or Liu Wei. Tseng Wen-ting, after his eye-catching effort against Guangdong, might get a start but whoever gets the nod, a lot of players need to step up tomorrow night.
It’s difficult to pin down whether Mike Harris, following the tragic death of his brother, will return to Shanghai in time for the Leopards game and reports have been confusing. The latest within the Chinese press appears to be that he will not be back in time. Not only does this put pressure on the Sharks other overseas player, Landry, it means that a big game is going to have to come from one of the Sharks’ Chinese players.
The game is tough but winnable (Dongguan conceede 104 points on the road), so if the Sharks want to have a post season, they need to show some mettle and quickly.