A swashbuckling, free flowing Shanghai Sharks overcame the odds and beat the more fancied Guangsha Lions in their first home game of the season and in doing so, erased the bitter memories of the consecutive defeats on the road. Coach Daniel Panaggio will be pleased with what he saw from the sidelines as his team overcame their more illustrious opposition.
The two reasonably high scoring teams both looked to take control of the game as quickly as possible but it was the Sharks, led by Mike Harris, that eventually forged ahead early in the second quarter. With the former Houston Rocket forward pulling the strings on both sides of the court, the Sharks eased into the half time interval 53-40 up, much to the delight of a vocal home crowd.
Shanghai’s onslaught continued after the break as Harris, ably aided by Ryan Kelly, set about the Lions with renewed vigour, and their crisp, accurate shooting helped open up a sizeable lead going into the fourth quarter. Unlike previous games, the Sharks did not waste their hard fought lead and instead patiently added to it as the game ebbed away. Guangsha looked shell shocked and despite scoring 25 points, Chandler found himself withdrawn before the end as the away side acknowledged that the match was beyond them
To a loud roar from their fans, the game ended with the Sharks victorious by a margin of 91-75. Kelly finished with 30 points, Harris underlined his own impressive performance with 18 points and 16 rebounds whilst Peng Fei and Taiwanese forward Tseng Wen-ting also stood out with a hard working, muscular performance. After such a commanding display, the Sharks have made a statement to their CBA rivals and will welcome their next opposition, Jillin Tigers, with the renewed confidence of a team that had finally found some momentum.
Two words. Wilson Chandler. The American forward is the centre piece of a team gunning for a title run, and has hit the ground running in the CBA, with a points-per-game average of 33.8.
The Hangzhou based outfit made the CBA playoffs in the two previous CBA seasons but didn’t make the final on either occasion. Thanks to the NBA lockout, the Lions already picked up Wilson but also recently attempted to double their Chandler factor by attempting to sign the Dallas Mavericks’ Tyson Chandler as well – a sign of their fiscal firepower.
Standing on the sidelines for the Lions will be the venerable Jim Cleamons, who won the NBA title as a player back in 1972 with the LA Lakers and then called the shots for the Dallas Mavericks from 1996-1997 in-between assistant jobs in Chicago, (where he won a ring as part of the Bulls backroom staff in 1991) New Orleans and Oklahoma.
For the Sharks, this will be a daunting home game, their first of the 2011-2012 season. Taiwanese guard Lin Chih-Chieh can also cause more than a little mischief and Guangsha haven’t scored less than 89 points in a game this season. If the Sharks are sensible, they will have spent their six day break since the loss to Foshan working out a way to deal with Chandler, who will have had enough exposure on TV for Daniel Panaggio to work out if he can be slowed down (early indications seem to imply ‘no’).
I have a horrible feeling that this game might quickly blossom into a cards-all-in, offensive shoot-out, something which Mssrs. Liu, Harris and Kelly will be more than content to involve themselves in. Whether or not they can keep pace with the ferocity of the Lions’ weapons remains to be seen but if the triangle offense and defensive competency was suddenly going to come together, there couldn’t be a better time than tomorrow, live on CCTV against one of the most eye-catching sides in the CBA.
A dominant Wilson Chandler looked value for money, albeit in a preseason game, as he rained thirty-six points down on Shanghai but his team mates, baring Lin Zhijie, who scored seventeen points, had little interest in joining the party. As a result, the Sharks’ considerably less heralded pair of Americans, Mike Harris and Ryan Kelly conspired to do the dirty on Zhejiang, scoring nineteen and fourteen points respectively, consistently making the big shots when it counted and leading their team to a close victory in a lively encounter.
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