As far as moral boasting wins go, there will certainly be more impressive ones but in a half empty arena that was quiet enough at times to hear the away team bench interact with their coach, Shanghai got it done against a bland Tianjin Lions team.
Without the injured Osama Daghlas to control the floor, Tianjin lacked ambition and with Donnell Harvey being well guarded by DJ White, the Lions’ only option was to rely on Zhang Nan to find baskets. He couldn’t and it became obviously very early on that Tianjin were toast.
Like so many times this season, White was the man who got things done and as well as taking care of Harvey, the power forward put up 26 points and 14 rebounds. Liu Wei also scored 25 points on his return to the side after missing four games with injury.
With no sign of recently replaced head coach Daniel Panaggio, home fans were waiting to see what the Sharks under Wang Qun would look like and for the first twenty-four minutes, the results were not pretty. The Sharks scored only one three-pointer in the entire first half and were shooting 34% from the field by the time the interval arrived.
Things got livelier when the sides returned. White’s 12 point haul in the third quarter effectively put the game to bed as the Sharks opened up a double-digit lead going into the final quarter of the game but no-one will be telling their grandchildren about the basketball they saw.
A ballsy dunk from Cai Liang with 10:29 on the clock in the fourth quarter then signalled the end of game as far as a contest. Within two minutes of the Shanghai player’s jam, Ta No had fouled out and then Hamady N’Diaye got himself benched for a flagrant foul.
There were some unusual scenes as the game drifted into garbage time with Tianjin continuing to hand out a series of meaty fouls to any Shark who went into the lane whilst the Lions head coach also appeared to give the finger to a home fan who was heckling the American.
In some ways, the indiscretions at the end reflected the game itself; scrappy, occasionally unsavoury and certainly not pretty on the eye. That said, a win is still a win and given the Sharks’ form right now, they don’t care how the victories come their way.