Things are about to get very tricky for Shanghai who will be playing their first home game in the 2012/13 CBA season against the improbably capable Shandong Lions.
Though the Lions have struggled to make any real impact in the league during previous seasons, this year could be the one that changes things.
Local players like Wu Ke will be problematic enough but its at the front court that I expect to see Shandong cause the most mayhem. The reason? Jackson Vroman and Zaid Abbas.
Vroman is a capable swingman who crash and bash to his heart’s content but it is arguably Abbas who will stand out. A former Sharks player, the Jordanian has led three different teams to the playoffs in consecutive years and his hustle, close range finishing and ferocious rebounding style will be a constant problem for Shanghai.
With the Sharks somewhat banged up right now, this is not the team they would like to be facing so early in the season. Gilbert Arenas is already out whilst Liu Wei and Zhang Zhaoxu certainly didn’t look 100% against Tianjin so this will be a very difficult encounter.
Zhang and Tseng Wen-Ting who will also get some minutes at center look set to face a real physical battle and they will need to be on good form if they are to assist DJ White in the paint. With any luck, Shanghai’s key players got some rest since the last game and will be able to play more meaningful minutes this time around because the Sharks will need all the help they can get against a very good visiting team.