Stephon Marbury Isn’t Making New Friends In China- Not That He Cares Anyway

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The impression of Stephon Marbury in the West tends to be that he is universally popular in China. This is true to a certain extent in Beijing and the Ducks’ point guard has been well received for trying to live like a local in the capital city. Using the metro to get around the city or attending Beijing Guoan games might be seen by some as a PR exercise but they still represent a man who is trying to be part of his local community. Washington DC native Kevin Durant has no natural links to Oklahoma City but still goes out of his way to seem invested in OKC. Pretending to care is part of life as a top level pro athlete and the simple fact that Marbury is doing that in Beijing adds legitimacy to the Ducks and the CBA as a whole.

Having made it clear he loves Beijing, the city has quickly embraced the American as one of its’ own. Marbury obviously has been feted with that statue and that cheesy musical but he has also been asked to coach at the Rising Star game at a CBA All-Star weekend, which underlines his credibility within the league’s front office itself. But just because Beijing loves him, it doesn’t mean that the rest of China feels the same way. Continue reading “Stephon Marbury Isn’t Making New Friends In China- Not That He Cares Anyway”

Unmissable: The Eight Sharks Home Games You Need To See This Season

The CBA fixture list has indeed landed and the Sharks 2012/13 schedule is right here and waiting for you.  However, as we wait for the season to really swing into gear, it’s probably worth looking over the games that will be played at the Yuanshen Arena and recommending eight good ones to mark down in your calendar. Continue reading “Unmissable: The Eight Sharks Home Games You Need To See This Season”

Shanghai Sharks:- CBA Summer League

It might be football (soccer) season in China right now but it doesn’t mean that the Sharks aren’t getting their reps in now that the CBA season is supposedly only two months away. With a preseason tour of Australia coming up at the end of September, Shanghai have been sparring with a number of  other CBA teams who are also slowly getting back into the groove.

Results so far are listed below with a few interesting details attached alongside the scoreline. With no overseas players on the team (although it is thought that both of Shanghai’s imports will be signed within the next fortnight), the following games represent a lot of playing time for bench players and youngsters to show the Sharks’backroom staff exactly what they have learned during the off season.

09/01: Guangsha Lions 82 – Shanghai Sharks 76 (Liu Ziqui 18 pts; Wu Yang 11pts; Liu Ziqui 10 pts)

09/02:  Bayi Rockets 69- Shanghai Sharks 66 (Liu Ziqui 18 pts; Wu Yang 10pts & 6rbs; Meng Lingyuan, Peng Fei, 8pts).

09/03:  Jiangsu Dragons 80 – Shanghai Sharks 72 (Wu Yang 15pts; Feng Tian 11pts & 5rbs; Meng Lingyuan, Peng Fei, 9pts)

 

The Road To The Play Offs: Shanghai’s Last Ten Games

With the Sharks at 12-10 coming into their last ten games, the Shanghai Daily’s basketball writer,  Alex Linder, dropped by to bravely speculate on the fortunes of the city’s team as they enter the final-third of the season among the play-off places. The Sharks will be playing seven of the CBA’s top teams (at the time of writing) and so effectively every game is a decisive fixture- not only for Shanghai’s season but also for the other sides in a congested play-off battle. Continue reading “The Road To The Play Offs: Shanghai’s Last Ten Games”

Shanghai Sharks 99 – Liaoning Innovators 118

Having beaten Guangsha Lions and Jilin Tigers in convincing fashion, the Shanghai Sharks couldn’t make it a hat-trick of impressive performances. Instead they ran out of steam in a high scoring game against the Liaoning Innovators. The Sharks were hard-working and determined but ultimately couldn’t overcome their guests’ inspired offence in a match where eleven players made it into double digits.

The away side brought with them a sizable group of supporters and the game had a derby atmosphere with both sets of fans relentlessly heckling each other throughout. Thunderous dunks from Zhang Zhaoxu and Rodney Carney moved the noise levels up another notch as both teams attacked relentlessly. By the time the dust had settled at the end of the first quarter, Shanghai led 28-21, thanks to some deft shooting from Liu Wei and Peng Fei.

Yet after an intense opening twelve minutes, Shanghai looked like they had punched themselves out. Liaoning quickly found their groove and overturned the Sharks’ lead before giving themselves a seven point advantage of their own. With Josh Powell and Peng Zhang becoming more influential, the Innovators were looking ominously potent as the sides left the court for halftime .

The furious shoot out continued after the interval and to the horror of the Shanghai fans, Liaoning’s hot streak showed no sign of fading away. Carney in particular was having an excellent day at the office and the American was flawless whenever he found an open look from range.

A valiant stand from Zhang was keeping Shanghai in the game but every time the big centre earned himself a basket, the Innovators would calmly stroll down to the other end and add two points of their own. Spoilt for choice, when Peng, Powell or Carney were being marked too closely, Liaoning could simply fall back on youngsters Li Xiaoxu or Guo Ailun to finish the job.

The fourth quarter was just as dramatic as the previous three as Liu Wei, having left the court following an earlier collision, tried to make up for lost time with a couple of well taken baskets whilst Mike Harris and Ryan Forehan-Kelly made their impact felt as well.

Yet having looked manageable in the early stages of the game, a beleaguered Sharks team suddenly had to deal with Han Dejun bustling his way around the Shanghai backcourt. The beefy centre’s graft and forceful ball retention in the final few minutes of the game was the final nail in the coffin to any hopes of a Sharks comeback. If only to rub salt into Shanghai’s wounds, Powell slammed home another dunk to the sound of his fans chanting ‘Championes, Championes’ as the Yuanshen steadily emptied around them.

The final buzzer sounded and a somewhat baffled Sharks left the court having been unable to keep up with a Liaoning side that was firing on all cylinders. Carney made 27, Powell got 24 and Li (17), Han (13), Peng (13) and Guo (11) all joined their American team mates in double figures. If only to underline how frenzied the game was, Zhang and Harris both had 20 point hauls for Shanghai in difficult conditions, whilst Liu (16), Peng and Forehan-Kelly ( both 15) also made their mark in an exceptionally high scoring game.

In his press conference afterwards, Coach Panaggio could only applaud the visiting side, calling their victory a ‘clinic’ and that Liaoning was the best team the Sharks had faced so far this season. ‘We have to improve our passing and court vision’ he noted, as Sharks prepare for another gruelling set of road games.

Those fans who cheered Shanghai off the court will be satisfied with winning two out of three at home against above-average opposition. However, they must also have known that their team had just been given a cruel reminder of the technical demands that with going toe-to-toe with gifted CBA offensives. Wednesday’s visit to defending champions Guangdong will be a test of Shanghai’s resolve and Panaggio will hope that his side will have learned their lessons sufficiently if they are to get something against a strong Tigers outfit.

Shanghai Sharks 85 – Jilin Tigers 67

Occasionally spellbinding, sometimes hard on the eyes; tonight’s victory against Jilin Tigers was a mixture of poetry and uppercuts as Shanghai Sharks crashed the boards and chased down their opponents when they had to but still found the time to dazzle the crowd when the opportunity presented itself.

From the start, Shanghai seemed in control and via the quick hands of Peng Fei and Liu Wei, quickly opened up a lead that the Sharks never lost. Mike Harris came on for Ryan Forehan-Kelly (hereby known as RFK to prevent the constant abuse of my hyphen key) at the start of the second quarter and quickly made a small lead something far more substantial. The Sharks led 42-23 at the break.

Emerging after the interval, Jilin’s duo of troublemakers, high-scoring forward, Cartier Martin, and courtside general, Jordanian point guard, Osama Daghlas, probably didn’t expect to be 42-23 down or anticipate what was to come shortly.

Indeed, at times during the third quarter I was reminded of playing an old Street Fighter game, specifically when you hit the buttons in the right order and made something awesome  happen. In this insistence, the combination of Lui, Harris and RFK produced the same effect and Coach Panaggio will have savoured the flashes of magic from the sidelines as his team continued to handle their business with more than a little touch of swagger.

To their credit, Jilin kept on fighting until the very end but it was effectively for pride alone. The game seemed decided well before the fourth quarter thanks to the earlier outbreak of blistering shooting, and the Sharks were content to slow the game down amidst the boisterous noise from the home fans.

When the final buzzer came, Shanghai could celebrate another victory, this time to the score of 85-67. Harris finished with 28 points and 22 rebounds, RFK made 16 points with seven rebounds whilst Liu (14), Peng and Zhang Zhaoxu (both 10 points) all scored in double figures.

Sunday may well be different but the Sharks felt reborn tonight, albeit under a passionate home crowd.The Sharks will obviously lose again but for now at least, two compelling victories on the trot give both hope and momentum to a side that this time last week had none of either.

Photo: sports.sina.com.cn

Scouting Notes: Jilin Tigers

Having overcome Guangsha Lions, the next team on the list for the Shanghai Sharks will be the Jillin Tigers, who are currently sitting tight at the top half of the table with a 3-2 record for their troubles.

Jillin will arrive in Shanghai with the psycological advantage of having beaten all three of the sides that Shanghai failed to beat on their recent error-prone road trip.

Among the Tigers making the trip down from North-East China will be Cartier Martin, who is averaging 28 points a game and is Jillin’s main scoring outlet. The Sharks will also be aware of Jilin’s Jordianian pointguard Osama Dahglas, in part because he leads the league in assists-per-game (9), but mostly because he has an impressively badass name.

I would reluctantly make Jillin favourites due the simple fact that they have done a better job of actually winning games and their squad as a whole has shared out the responsability of moving the scoreboard along better*. That said, Ryan Kelly and Mike Harris looked formidable against Guangsha and if Panaggio can get them working in such an impressive tandem in the second half again, Shanghai should look at this game as a further step towards redemption. Right now, Shanghai can ride the wave that comes with a win in front of a home crowd but if 1-3 doesn’t become 2-3 by the end of Friday night, things return to square one once again. Keeping Dahglas from running the game would be a start but finding the right balance between containing both him and Martin will be this week’s headache for Coach Panaggio.

*=Disclaimer: Changchun-based basketball isn’t big on Shanghainese television so I’m going on scorecards right now.

Shanghai Sharks 91 – Guangsha Lions 75


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.

http://sports.sina.com.cn/

Scouting Report: Guangsha Lions

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.