It’s now time for an always feisty showdown between China’s two biggest cities. The trouble is, the Beijing Ducks happen to be the defending CBA champions and are easily among the best teams in the league. Not good timing for an ailing home side methinks.
Led by Stephon Marbury (26.3/4.8/6.3), the visitors are a formidable outfit that have dangerous weapons all over their roster. Fellow American Randolph Morris (22.2ppg, 9.9rpg) will be a no-nonsense threat in the paint (although he can occasionally drop a three if given the space) and is the steady foil to Starbury’s flashiness.
Former Qingdao forward Li Gen (a former teammate of Cai Liang) is the pick of Beijing’s local players and is money from outside the arc if he gets an open look. Ji Zhe and Zhai Xiaochuan are also solid shooters who will burn opposing teams if they aren’t closed down while Taiwanese point guard Lee Hsueh-Lin is a thankless but canny ball handler who can control games when he gets going.
With Gilbert Arenas already confirmed as being out, the Sharks badly need Liu Wei back in the team if Shanghai are to start finding the wins needed to even have a chance of saving their season. If not, things could get messy given that the Ducks are on a roll and the Sharks are playing with few reliable scoring options besides DJ White and Liu Ziqiu right now.