With a very difficult road game against Xinjiang on Wednesday, the upcoming visit of the Fujian Sturgeons (14-11) to the Yuanshen now has extra importance for Shanghai. A win against their guests on Sunday would not only move the Sharks up into the playoff places but also trip up one of their rivals for a postseason position. The home side were undone by old boy, Zaid Abbas, in the corresponding fixture and have to stop that happening again if they want to play on beyond mid-February.
Statistically, the primary concern of Fujian is not Abbas but rather 6″11 swingman, Will McDonald. The overseas veteran has been racking up the points so far this season, averaging 27.8ppg which includes making 45% of his treys. Fellow American Anthony Roberson, whilst lacking the eye for a killer pass, is still capable of putting up big shooting numbers and the point guard, who has bounced between the NBA teams and a few European leagues, can toast sides who let him get his shots off. Abbas, an all action forward whose guile helped break down Shanghai when the sides last met, has already served notice of the problems he can cause. Gong Songlin (11.3ppg) and Zhou Tailong (11ppg) are also available in reserve so the Sturgeons are bringing enough firepower to cause the home side problems.
Simply put, if Shanghai want a postseason, they have to win this game. They are 10-2 when playing infront of their own fans and have been able to shut down most of the offences that have visited the Yuanshen. The visitors are 4-7 on the road and concede 105ppg on the road (the fifth worst record in the league). A long holiday rest and what should be a bumper crowd will also play into the Sharks’ hands, but with so few games left in the season, now every fixture is huge and anything less than a win at home is unthinkable.