Five games in, four wins on the board and life is looking remarkably rosy for the Shanghai Sharks, who now sit in fourth place in the standings after surviving a nervy third quarter to eventually overcome the Qingdao Eagles.
Von Wafer, having got into the scoring grove in the previous game against Shanxi, was a critical player for the Sharks once again and the former Xinjiang Tigers shooting guard had already eased into a double figures in shooting by the end of the first quarter. Indeed Wafer was needed to help stem the Qingdao onslaught late into the fourth quarter as Shanghai began to wobble in the face of a determined Eagles push. Consecutive lay-ups aren’t the sexiest of moves but they helped Shanghai keep the scoreboard moving in a critical passage of play to give them a 100-94 lead.
Earlier in the game, the Sharks had made the better start out of the two teams and by halftime, the Sharks back court had helped open up a 59-43 lead.
However, Qingdao would come storming back in the third quarter as Josh Selby and PJ Ramos caused the Sharks’ D to become overstretched. Shanghai’s sixteen point lead had evaporated to six by the end of the third quarter and with twelve minutes left to save the game, the Eagles held nothing back. After finishing through contact and then converting the foul, Ramos had brought the Eagles back to within two points and suddenly the game was up for grabs.
It was then that Wafer emerged to slot home two drives to the basket to help steady the nerves but with two minutes left, the Sharks still had to rely on their veterans to get them through the game. A Qingdao trey made the game 106-104 in the Sharks’ favor but things were eventually settled by two coolly taken Liu Wei free-throws. The Sharks once again had thrown away a large lead only to squeak home with the victory- a timely reminder that there is still room for improvement in the Sharks’ early performances- but the win was in the bag.
Wafer finished with 29 points for the night whilst Liu Wei and Darnell Jackson had stat lines of 21/4/5 and 19/9/1. Zhang Zhaoxu, along with Jackson, helped contain Ramos down the stretch and the Chinese big man picked up another three blocks during the game, thus ensuring he continues to lead the league in rejections (4 bpg).