Fujian Sturgeons 95 – Shanghai Sharks 93

Shanghai are now at 0-6 on the road after a typically battling, hardworking performance that saw the obligatory top drawer performances from Ryan Forehan-Kelly and Mike Harris but  the Sharks couldn’t cope with the strength and guile of former Shark, Zaid Abbas. The Jordanian didn’t put on a huge score but galvanised his team with an eye-catching performance that kept a passionate home crowd on their feet.

Fujian went ahead in a big way as early as five minutes into the first quarter when Abbas starting weaving his way past his marker for lay ups or dishing it out for his team mates to score themselves. The end result was a ten point lead that the Sharks somehow immediately erased thanks to the hard work of RFK, and Shanghai instead found themselves up 22-21.

The second quarter belonged to Fujian and this time there was no Sharks comeback. Abbas was merciless when he got close to the rim and when the ball wasn’t in his hands, Lo Yi Ting and Gong Songlin had the accuracy from downtown to make the Sharks pay. A buzzer beater, inevitably a three-pointer, from Zhao Tailong sent Fujian in at the halftime break, 52-45.

Fujian continued to pound the Sharks after the break and this time, towering centre Will McDonald was up to no good, rebounding hard and making his chances when he could. With Harris and RFK working in tandem along with Meng Lingyuan, the Sharks were never out of it but the Sturgeons remained in front 74-66.

Come the final quarter, Harris achieved the remarkable feat of silencing the vocal home crowd after the Sharks had spent most of it slowly eat up the scoring deficit. The former Houston Rocket’s effort from way out now made it 89-87 with four minutes left and set up a frantic spell of complete chaos.

To sum it all up, Fujian made it 95-90 after McDonald fired home and RFK replied with a three. Wu Yang made one of his two free-throws to make it 94-91 only for Lo to bring the clock down to fourteen seconds before missing his shot from a distance. Harris then failed to make his own three pointer in the face of his marker and it looked like it was game over for the Sharks.

Nope.

A heavy foul by Harris after the restart meant that the Sturgeons had two free-throws at the other end. Zhou converted one  to make it 95-91 only for RFK to get two free-throws (I couldn’t see what happened due to the implausibly bad camera work from the game) which he duly made, and the score was now 95-93 with the ball still with the Sharks for a restart in the Sturgeons’ half of the court. With a millisecond or two left, Harris hoisted the ball high and wide to confirm the inevitable. Shanghai came mighty close to pull off an epic comeback but failed in the last moment.

RFK finished on 31 points whilst Harris made 18 and Meng got himself 15 points. Another valiant defeat for a side that have sacks full of fighting spirit but no luck. The return of Bob Donewald beckons on Wednesday and he’s bringing with him Kenyon Martin and the Xinjiang Tigers. Another frustrating defeat  on the road was not the best preparation for such a reunion and Coach Panaggio will be no doubt telling his side as much as they fly back to Shanghai .

Scouting Report: Fujian Sturgeons

Shanghai Sharks move on to another game on the road, this time against the team with the least imposing name in the CBA, the Fujian Sturgeons.

Based in Jinjiang, a city that sounds about as much fun as being stuck in a traffic jam on the way to a meeting you know will be long and boring, the Sturgeons have had a mostly inconsistent season that will see them going into Sunday’s game with a 4-5 record (3-2 at home).

Having finished with an 8-24 record last year, Fujian have brought in the Dr Fix-it of the CBA, Zaid Abbas, who as noted in Niubball’s excellent review of the various CBA teams, has been the a big factor in both his two former sides improving on their dire record from the previous season. Joining the Jordanian in his quest to help improve the Sturgeons from ‘terrible’ to ‘below-par’, are journeymen Will McDonald, a veteran of the Spanish leagues and guard, Anthony Roberson, who has variously played in Italy, Israel, France as well as in the NBA (he had spells with the Knicks and Golden State Warriors).

Baring the occasional flurry from Gong Songlin, Fujian play primarily through their trio of imports but that’s still enough to cause the Sharks problems. That said, compared to Guangdong and Dongguan, this is a less difficult away game and Shanghai would have fancied their chances with a full strength line-up but with Liu Wei out, Mike Harris and RFK can’t carry the team by themselves meaning that the Sharks will need a big night from Zhang Zhaoxu or a bench player to help move the scoreboard along. It’s a big ask but right now everything is a big ask away from Shanghai…