A tough season for Shanghai suddenly got a lot tougher after the Sharks were outplayed by a no-thrills Foshan Dralions team. Gilbert Arenas scored a season-high 24 points whilst DJ White also picked a 19 point, 14 rebound double-double. However, the home team also turned the ball over 20 times, including six by White as Foshan deservedly earned a win few expected them to actually get.
A frantic fade-away jumper from White put the Sharks up 45-43 at the break but despite their lead, Shanghai looked more than a tad sloppy, turning the ball over ten times and only converting four of their fourteen attempts from three-point range.
Liu Wei, who didn’t score his first basketball until ninety seconds before half-time slowly began to find his groove in the second half, firstly by releasing Arenas for a lay-up with a no-look pass before subsequently firing home a three right in the face of seven-foot center Zheng Zhun.
Yet Foshan still had a lot of juice left in the tank and calmly kept making the most of their chances. Shavlik Randolph was a reliable bulldozer in the paint while the streaky Rashad McCant was making more shots than he missed. It wasn’t pretty but the away team were out-rebounding and out-hustling their hosts in almost every critical moment in the second half.
Moreover, the errors kept on flowing for Shanghai as Arenas ran down the game clock with Foshan up 68-67 only to dribble into traffic as the buzzer went for the end of the third quarter and with the visitors looking increasingly confident.
Indeed, smelling blood, Foshan kept on coming and Feng Tian, playing against his former team, snuck home a breakaway lay-up to give the Dralions a twelve point lead with seven minutes on the clock in the fourth.
A big three from Arenas and two free-throws in two consecutive Sharks’ possessions gave the crowd some hope only for Egyptian point guard Michel Mandaanly to drop a trey of his own and the Sharks to then turn the ball over immediately afterwards.
Later, with Liu having failed to nail a three pointer and Foshan still boasting a nine point lead with the clock winding down, the Sharks were duly forced to suffer the indignity of playing out the final few seconds of the game to the sound of an emptying arena. Clearly frustrated with themselves, the Sharks looked relieved to get the game finished and limp back to the dressing room.
In his press conference afterwards, Shanghai head coach Daniel Panaggio conceded that the Sharks were ‘disappointing’ and had lost to a team that believed in themselves more as the game went on.
Also addressing the angry scenes at the end of the game in which pockets of Sharks fans chanted the name of former coach Bob Donewald Jr., Panaggio was relaxed, noting that the coach was often the focal point of fans’ fury after a bad loss. When asked if he was under any pressure from the front office, he replied he was not.
The team will now pick themselves up and focus on the physical battle awaiting them on Christmas Day against Bayi knowing that they need to find some winning form and quickly.