The Shanghai Sharks recovered from a poor first quarter to run riot against a dire Jiangsu Dragons outfit. Mike Harris was dynamite once again and Coach Panaggio will be pleased at the production he got from the bench as the Sharks moved up to fifth in the CBA table. With two games left in the regular season, Shanghai have now earned themselves a playoff spot, although exactly which one it is remains to be seen.
Jiangsu didn’t start like a side that had gone 0-15 on the road coming into the game and when Hu Xuefeng started dropping some crisp three-pointers midway through the first quarter, the Dragons managed to open up a 24-12 lead. Try as they might, the Sharks couldn’t close the gap and the Dragons were controlling the game through the passing and movement of Jackson Vroman. Despite the efforts of Meng Lingyuan and Harris, the Sharks found themselves being bossed around in their own house and by the end of the first twelve minutes, a shell-shocked Shanghai were losing 27-19.
Realizing what was at stake, the Sharks picked themselves up and came out swinging. Harris, fighting for every shot in he could find in the paint, was building up a head of steam whilst Peng Fei was also making himself useful by polishing off tricky jump shots from all over the court.
Gradually, the Sharks were dragging themselves back into the light. Meng Da and Yang Li were still putting up points from distance but the Dragons looked brittle without Vroman, who had been relegated to bench for Marcus Williams, and Shanghai made the most of the situation to drag themselves back into the game and then into a 48-44 lead in the dying seconds of the first half.
Harris didn’t take his foot of the gas when the two sides returned after the interval and was a dominant presence at both ends of the court for the rest of the game, controlling Vroman on defence but also showing a hot hand whenever he got an open look. Backed up by some deft shooting from Marcus Landry and Liu Ziqiu, the Sharks were now starting to open up a sizable lead over their guests.
Although the Sharks had to deal with a late Jiangsu rally that briefly reduced the deficit to single digits, the visitors weren’t allowed to get carried away and a flurry of baskets from Landry soon killed off any hope of a fight back. Utterly deflated, the Dragons soon found themselves reduced to a punching bag as Harris and Landry took it in turns to bury shots from downtown.
The fun had to end eventually and when it did, the Sharks were the victors, 103-83. Harris left the court having picked up his second colossal double-double in 48 hours, this time scoring 34 points and picking up 28 rebounds. Landry (24), Liu Ziqiu (11) Peng (10) and Zhang Zhaoxu (10) also made double figures on a night where the Sharks put on a show for the fans in their final regular season game at the Yuanshen this season.
In his press conference that followed the game, Panaggio was clear about the way the Sharks finished the season at home; ‘I’m really happy with our second half, really happy we won the ball game and really happy how we defended our home court this season’, adding that the 14-2 record at the Yuanshen was made safe by ‘an outstanding third and fourth quarter’. With other results in the league appearing to suggest the Sharks had booked themselves a playoff position, Panaggio looked relieved but his cool reaction to the news also confirmed that his team won’t be allowed to relax under the final regular season game ends next week.