Yi Jianlian And Guangdong Are Proving Everyone Wrong

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After a summer of obituaries to a fine basketball team, somehow the Guangdong Tigers will not die. After being blown out by almost thirty points against the Shanxi Dragons in Game 1 of the regular season, it felt safe to finally say the most dominant CBA team of the last decade was done. But instead, Guangdong are 17-3 and sitting in second place in the table. They are on course to make the postseason and force their way into the title discussion once again. On paper, it makes no sense. Continue reading “Yi Jianlian And Guangdong Are Proving Everyone Wrong”

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”

The Old Master Fights Back; Yi Jianlian Bests Zhou Qi In Clash Of Past Vs. Future

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A meeting of the old guard and the new generation is a once-in-a-decade experience in any sport, but for Chinese basketball, such encounters have an extra special meaning. Obsessed with seeing their countrymen in the NBA, each rising hopeful is the next chance to make that happen. But at the same time, there are also those who made it to America but never quite managed to stick around. Invariably they return to the CBA as gatekeepers, waiting for the next young mainlander to travel down the road to the NBA. Continue reading “The Old Master Fights Back; Yi Jianlian Bests Zhou Qi In Clash Of Past Vs. Future”

Teenage Dreams And Army Teams: How Rookies Represent Hope For The Bayi Rockets

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Like too many rebuilding projects, the Bayi Rockets only opted in once they took a hard look in the mirror. The previous season, the former kings of Chinese basketball were dragging old legends out of retirement to win games and the nationwide criticism may well have had something to do with the current Rockets ethos. Because whatever discussions happened in the 2015 offseason, Bayi suddenly seem content at being pretty bad.

Continue reading “Teenage Dreams And Army Teams: How Rookies Represent Hope For The Bayi Rockets”

Local Players To Watch This Season (Part 1)

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With talk about both Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin running for the NBA draft in the near future, young Chinese players haven’t been talked about this much since Yi Jianlian was a young prospect almost a decade ago. Now, in the first of two parts, Marco Catanzaro breaks down some of the other young players that need to be studied closely. Continue reading “Local Players To Watch This Season (Part 1)”

Breaking Down The 2015/16 CBA Season: Part Two

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In the second of a four-part CBA preview, we break down two teams that are making bold free agency decisions (the Jilin Tigers and Jiangsu Dragons), one all-time great team that needs to improve in the postseason (Guangdong Tigers), another play-off team that will probably keep punching above its weight (Guangsha Lions) and a Foshan Long Lions roster that simply needs to prove something to itself. Part one can be read here. Continue reading “Breaking Down The 2015/16 CBA Season: Part Two”

How Yi Jianlian’s Free Agency Could Change The CBA Landscape Overnight

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With speculation mounting about his free agency status, Yi Jianlian was forced to release a statement last Monday. In it, the captain of the Chinese national team confirmed that he had not re-signed with the Guangdong Tigers despite his looming free agency but that talks were set to begin soon.

But the announcement, designed to put Tigers fans at ease, underlines a growing concern that Yi might not actually agree to a deal. The ramifications were this to happen would be huge and if Yi did indeed go elsewhere, it essentially spells the end for one of Chinese basketball’s most successful rosters. Continue reading “How Yi Jianlian’s Free Agency Could Change The CBA Landscape Overnight”

Andray Blatche and The Xinjiang Tigers; A Culture Of Chaos At China’s Richest Basketball Team

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Far away from the world’s eyes, the Xinjiang Tigers have existed in Chinese sport as a monolith for how one should absolutely not run a professional team. Fickle, slick and shameless; if there is talent for sale, the Tigers are picking up the phone and asking how much. Now Andray Blatche has even chosen Xinjiang over the NBA. Those numbers again, folks; three years, $7.5 million and the chance to be the most prominent athlete for a thousand mile in any direction.

Continue reading “Andray Blatche and The Xinjiang Tigers; A Culture Of Chaos At China’s Richest Basketball Team”

Shark Fin Hoops CBA Play-Off Preview: Finals

Liaoning Leopards vs. Beijing Ducks

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Is Liaoning, the team that always flatters to deceive, about to finally fulfill its destiny and win a CBA title? This will be the fifth time the Leopards have made the championship series but not since the mid 1990’s (when the team made three consecutive Finals) have Liaoning looked this good. They have a proven scorer and ball handler in Lester Hudson, a very useful big man that gets it down down low and shooters that space the floor and knock down their shots at a high clip. Continue reading “Shark Fin Hoops CBA Play-Off Preview: Finals”

Shark Fin Hoops CBA Play-Off Preview: Semi Finals

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Guangdong Tigers (1) vs Beijing Ducks (3)

Shit, as they say, is about to get very real. It only took three games for Beijing to walk straight through Jilin (and its also worth stressing that the starters were rested for the second half of the final game) whilst Guangdong needed four attempts to put a plucky but outmatched Dongguan to the sword. Ultimately though, things went as expected and the holders of the last combined eight CBA titles will now face off for the third time in the last four years. Continue reading “Shark Fin Hoops CBA Play-Off Preview: Semi Finals”