Shanghai overcame the odds to beat the Bayi Rockets in a game that started on a low note with the announcement that both Liu Wei and Gilbert Arenas were out with injuries, only to end in victory thanks to a thrilling performance from Ge Yang.
For Ge, now playing for his home town team after a year with the Xinjiang Tigers, the Bayi game represented a coming out party for the twenty-two year old. Bright, quick and fearless, the point guard scored 18 critical points on the night and proved to be the key to unlocking Bayi’s vaunted zone defence.
The first quarter served notice of Ge’s worth as he scored 12 points in the game’s first ten minutes amid some pretty physical Bayi defence. Alongside him, Liu Ziqiu was also having a big night, gleefully making the most of the open looks being fashioned for him by Ye as the Sharks led by twenty-four points at one point before settling for a 47-36 half-time advantage.
The Bayi players, old and creaking as they were, came back in the second half and led by Wang Zhizhi began to slowly eat away at the deficit. The Sharks were not helping matters by giving away cheap turnovers and allowing a generous amount of offensive rebounds but with Cai Liang and DJ White now also growing in confidence, the home side were keeping their noses infront.
There was still time for some controversy deep into the fourth quarter when Liu Ziqiu ended the night with a stat line of 14/6/3 after fouling out in questionable circumstances with three minutes left to play and Shanghai leading by five points.
The home crowd, who had seen their team’s lead shrink as the game went on were not amused. Shouts of ‘black whistle’ rained down from the stands at the referees who’d already made a host of highly questionable calls for Bayi (including a goal tending call on a blocked shot!).
It could have been the moment that the Sharks’ resistance broke but instead Ye, who had sparked Shanghai’s initial onslaught was on hand to close the game out and fitting dispatched his two free-throws as Bayi started fouling to get the ball back.
Shanghai held on to secure a crucial win and the bruised and tired Sharks’ team can now enjoy a bye-game before travelling to Changchun to play the Jillin Tigers on Sunday. Besides the hard work of Ge, White scored 16 points, Zhang Zhaoxu made 11 and Wang Ligang got 10.