Despite a number of players turning in solid performances, the Shanghai Sharks once again finished as the losing side, albeit after a memorising game that quickly became a procession of big shots from all ends of the basketball court.
Marcus Haislip in particular was sensational for Dongguan, going 9-of-11 from beyond the arc on his way to putting up 38 points. That said, for Shanghai, Liu Ziqui shot 25 points of his own, missing only two shots the whole game while an additional four Sharks players made double-digit scoring contributions on a night where everyone was swinging haymakers.
With Ryan Forehan Kelly not playing (presumably to allow Gilbert Arenas to be cleared for Wednesday’s game against the Guangdong Tigers), the Sharks went into the game with only one overseas player, although it did not seem to phase them. Liu Wei and Ziqui both enjoyed good starts while Haislip also began finding his range very early into the game.
The Leopards’ edged ahead at the break when a buzzer-beating three from Quan Gu sneaked in and put the home side up 49-41, although the two teams quickly got back into it after the halftime interval.
Lester Hudson- who had a quiet first half that was notable mainly for an elbow on Meng Lingyuan which was at best clumsy and at worst malicious- looked more focused after the restart, and the beefy point guard suddenly started nailing threes of his own.
At the other end of the court, Tseng Wen-ting and DJ White were constant problems for the hosts and mixed up some close range lay-ups with some well taken stuff from downtown.
The pace of the game was frenetic and even as the game drifted into the fourth quarter, clutch shots were being made with eye-opening regularity. Haislip continued to drill home his open looks and when he or Hudson wasn’t in a decent position, the experienced Qiu Biao was more than happy to chip in with some buckets.
With minimal room for error. the game essentially belonged to Dongguan after the home team came out on top in a frentic exchange three minutes from the final buzzer.
When DJ White missed a lay-up in traffic with the contest still at 90-86 to Dongguan, Hudson then immediately went down the court and dropped a three. Liu Wei scored for the Sharks on the following possession from just outside the paint to make it 93-88 before Haislip effortlessly sunk a trey of his own. A couple of plays later, White and Haslip traded further three-pointers within seconds of each other.
It was exhausting for both teams to keep up amid the frenzied give-and-take of big shots but eventually the Sharks just ran out of time.
Shanghai’s momentum also was not helped by a freak injury to Sun Tonglin, who lost his balance midair whilst attempting a dunk and probably broke a rib or two upon landing.
With ninety seconds on the clock, the game was stopped to treat the young Chinese swingman and it broke up the Sharks’ intensity, giving Dongguan the chance to regroup and see out the final minute of the game.
Besides Liu Ziqui’s big day, Liu Wei scored 14 points whilst Tseng (16pts), White (14pts) and Cai Liang (11pts) also impressed for the Sharks, who will hope to bring that same intensity to Guangdong when they play the Tigers on Wednesday.