In an increasingly guard driven league, it is important to remember that an overseas power forward or center is absolutely critical to a CBA team. A good big man tends to solve many problems overnight and a middling franchise can often upgrade its front court with just one phone call to the right player.
On the surface, the CBA offseason is six months of dead time. The national team gathers together the county’s best players together for several days (and sometimes even several weeks) of training sessions at various locations inside and outside China. For two months, the National Basketball League (NBL), the sport’s second tier in China, also gets played, albeit to little or no fanfare. Given that this is one of the few periods of free time for CBA players, right now is also the best time of year to be getting married so very tall dudes are either walking down the aisle right this second or watching one of their teammates do the same thing. But it doesn’t mean that there isn’t any meaningful basketball related activity going on. There’s plenty of it– but at this time of year, it’s all being held behind closed doors and far away from the court (and prying eyes). Continue reading “The CBA Draft And What It Could Mean For Chinese Basketball (EDIT)”
Liaoning Leopards vs. Beijing Ducks
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”
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”
Its play-off time in the Chinese Basketball Association, which, to the league’s credit, has become more and more exciting with every season. This year, it’s an interesting mix between old hands like Guangdong, Beijing and Xinjiang and new faces like Qingdao and Jilin. The structure is fairly simple; 1st vs. 8th, 2nd vs 7th and so on, until the two remaining teams from both sides of the eight seed bracket face off in a best of seven Finals. Games start on Febuary 6th but it makes sense to first break down who is in the postseason and how they might fare.
#1 Seed: Guangdong Tigers (34-4)
For the fourth season in a row, the Tigers have finished the regular season atop of the standings. But this time around, they finished with their best ever record in the modern CBA era and won twenty-six games in a row. After initially deciding that they wanted to get younger with Emmanuel Mudiay, now it looks like Guangdong have decided to rely on veterans. Mudiay has been watching things from the sidelines since December and in his place Will Bynum (21.4ppg, 7.4apg) handles the ball whilst Yi Jianlian (27.4ppg), Zhu Fangyu (18.9ppg including 47% from downtown) and Wang Shipeng (45% from downtown) space the floor and wait for the defense to panic. Yet the big question is still the same; can the Tigers win the title again after a period of relative inconsistency (one title in three seasons having previous won seven out of eight CBA Finals between 2004-2011)? On paper, you would say ‘of course, idiot’ but this is an older team that found themselves bested in last year’s semi-finals by a Beijing side with both street smarts AND youth on their side. A year on from that painful loss, the Tigers would once again face Beijing for the third CBA postseason in four years should both teams make it to the semi-finals and the Ducks are leading the ongoing series 2-0. If and when that scenario happens, it may well be this Guangdong roster’s Waterloo moment. Continue reading “Shark Fin Hoops Indepth CBA Play-Off Preview: Quarter Finals”
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”
The oft used quote that those who don’t learn from their history are only doomed to repeat it seems particularly apt in Xinjiang right now. The Tigers, forever looking to win their first ever CBA title, once again broke out the checkbook early on in the year to build up star-studded line-up. Liu Wei, Cao Fei, Zhou Qi, Jordan Crawford and Andray Blatche all arrived at the start of the year and yet the team is 9-4 when they were expecting to be 13-0. The reality is that in the industrial city of Urumqi, it is title or bust and their constantly anxious fan base is now once again calling for something to be done to get the team back on track. Continue reading “Heads Look Set To Roll At Panicking Xinjiang”