Don’t Believe The Hype; Jimmer Fredette And The Shanghai Sharks Are Fools Gold

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Looking handsome at 7-1 (5-0 at home), the Shanghai Sharks are off the the best start to a CBA campaign since a 22 year old center named Yao Ming was anchoring the front court back in 2002. That was almost fifteen years ago and Yao is now five years into retirement and watching games from the directors box. Yet have finally found another offensive fulcrum in the shape of former BYU star, Jimmer Freddette, suddenly the most fair weather of sports towns is talking about basketball again and a play-off run seems all but certain.  Remarkably, some are even wondering if Shanghai can win their first CBA title since Yao was entering his prime almost two decades earlier.

Continue reading “Don’t Believe The Hype; Jimmer Fredette And The Shanghai Sharks Are Fools Gold”

Yi Jianlian, Du Feng And The Fight For The Soul Of The Guangdong Tigers

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If you haven’t already guessed, Chinese basketball is a highly complicated, incredibly political landscape. Yet somehow, the events of the past few days in Guangdong have been especially unprecedented and will be a storyline to follow for the whole of the current CBA season.

Now, we should probably pause  to recap some stuff. Regular readers of Shark Fin Hoops will know that the Guangdong Tigers are a fading but extremely important dynasty. The Tigers’ rivalry with the Bayi Rockets defined the early years of the Chinese Basketball Association and Guangdong went on to win eight titles in thirteen years. The cornerstones of this success were the local players and although Yao Ming was the face of the national team, players like Du Feng, Yi Jianlian, Zhu Fangyu and Wang Shipeng all played on multiple Olympic teams during that time. A hugely successful core, Yi went to the NBA in 2007, Zhu almost went in 2004 and Du and Wang may well have got their shot had they played for another team in China that did not require such strict adherence to team-first basketball. Continue reading “Yi Jianlian, Du Feng And The Fight For The Soul Of The Guangdong Tigers”

Fan Ziming, China’s Newest Phenom, Will Debut In Forthcoming CBA Season

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High level Chinese prospects, like comets, don’t come around all-too-often but when they do, it makes sense to put time aside and be there for the moment. Indeed, given the widespread dominance of imports and increasing irrelevance of Chinese players in their own league, there’s currently not a lot of homegrown guys to get pumped over. This seems set to change with the looming debut of Fan Ziming.

The teenage seven-footer, who reportedly weighs in at a solid 250lbs, has been on the radar in China for several years but was only cleared to play in the CBA once he turned eighteen back in April. In the meantime, he has been gathering solid numbers at the youth level and like Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin (who both turned pro after similar gap years dominating their school-age counterparts in 2012 and 2014 respectively), is now a source of huge interest.

Continue reading “Fan Ziming, China’s Newest Phenom, Will Debut In Forthcoming CBA Season”

Shark Fin Hoops Interview: Bryce Cotton

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After a sudden late season move, the Xinjiang Tigers cut combo guard Andrew Goudelock and replaced him with former Utah and Phoenix point guard Bryce Cotton. Cotton averaged 21.2 ppg during his run with the Tigers before they eventually lost in the CBA Semi-Finals to eventual champions, Sichuan Blue Whale. He now talks to Shark Fin Hoops about his time with the Tigers and his thoughts on Chinese basketball. Continue reading “Shark Fin Hoops Interview: Bryce Cotton”

Belatedly, China Is Back In The NBA– But What Happens Now?

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Not since 2007 have Chinese players heard their names called in the NBA draft. History tends to forget that two mainlanders were drafted that year (Yi Jianlian to the Bucks and Sun Yue was also selected by the Lakers in the middle of the second round). Either way, by 2011, both players were out of the NBA and since then, there has been an awkward absence of Chinese players in the world’s biggest league. That was, until last Thursday, when Wang Zhelin and Zhou Qi both were selected.

Continue reading “Belatedly, China Is Back In The NBA– But What Happens Now?”

Wait, Exactly How Old Is Zhou Qi?

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After months of speculation, Zhou Qi, China’s most hyped young player since Yi Jianlian, is going to make a run at the upcoming NBA draft.

This should not be much of a surprise for those who have followed the nineteen year old’s short career. After exploding onto the scene with a 28 point, 27 rebound, 15 block triple double during a U-16 international tournament in 2011, Zhou eventually turned pro with the Xinjiang Tigers in 2014 and led the CBA in rejections as a rookie. Having repeated the feat in his sophomore year, it seemed natural to test the NBA waters given that his stock is red-hot and the 2016 Draft appears weaker than 2017. The groundswell of support for Zhou is such that even Xinjiang, the team who own his contract rights, have reluctantly agreed to let him put his name on the board.

But what is muting the excitement is a familiar theme to Chinese basketball fans– namely that there could be an major issue with Zhou’s age.  Continue reading “Wait, Exactly How Old Is Zhou Qi?”

The CBA Finals In One Image

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In what has been a crazy Finals that saw players fight in the streets with fans, the potential suspension of the championship series itself and journalists sob at press conferences, an underdog Sichuan Blue Whale roster surprised many basketball observers by overcoming a stronger, deeper and more experienced Liaoning team.

The key was Hamed Haddadi, who averaged 21.6 points and 19.2 rebounds on his way to the Finals MVP crown. Back in November, I predicted he could be a huge factor in winning a title so I’m feeling pretty smug right now, but it will be the center himself that will have the biggest grin of all.

So in a special moment for Chinese basketball, Haddadi– who is not the most popular guy in the league because of his chippy style of play– got a send-off that is rarely seen outside of a Hollywood screenplay. Because of rules about foreign players, the beloved center has now probably played his last game for Sichuan but still gets to walk off into the sunset as a CBA champion.

Yet before he walked down the player’s tunnel for the final time, a visibly emotional Haddadi suddenly walked up into the packed stands of Sichuan’s arena and gave an impromptu victory speech over the PA system. Its a great photo and one that hopefully can define this Finals after all the anarchy that has preceded it.