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”

Shark Fin Hoops Indepth CBA Play-Off Preview: Quarter Finals

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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.

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#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 CBA’s Explosion In Shooting; Good For Business, Bad For The Local Guys

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Three years ago, Errick McCollum was playing in the second tier of Israeli basketball. Last night, he scored 82 points against the Guangdong Tigers to break the record for most points in a CBA game (75, set in 2012 by Quincy Douby). That was his fourth game of 50 points or more in thirty-seven games. With one game left in the season, McCollum is averaging 39.6ppg and barring some kind of mathematical improbability, the point guard will also shatter the record for most points in a CBA season of 35.2ppg set by the former Xavier center Anthony Myles in 2006.

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CBA All-Star Review (Now Featuring Michael Beasley And A Lot Of Bad Dunks)

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Another year, another CBA All-Star weekend that was okay but still probably wasn’t going to make anyone sit up and take notice. Indeed, with Chinese audiences more interested in the country’s soccer team making it three wins in a row in the Asian Cup, the CBA was in the shadows despite basketball being the traditional winter sport of the Middle Kingdom. This though was probably for the best given that for the neutrals and casual fans, the same flaws were still present and correct; naff dunk contest, crappy uniforms and more than a few empty seats in chilly Beijing.

Anyway, the most important takeaway from the whole weekend is that MICHAEL BEASLEY SCORED 59 POINTS AND WAS THE GAME’S MVP. That news again; Michael Beasley broke the CBA All-Star scoring record and in some style; step back treys, coast-to-coast dunks, alley-oops. Lovely stuff. Highlights below (obviously) but I’m still not sure if this sort of Beas related activity is good or bad for the reputation of the largest basketball league in South-East Asia. Actually, who am I kidding; its fucking great.

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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”

The Best Kept Secret In Chinese Basketball Keeps Reaching Milestones

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Despite playing in their bad ass throwbacks to celebrate the anniversary of the CBA, the Guangdong Tigers managed to lose to a seemingly unstoppable Liaoning Jaguars team that moved on to 10-0 in the standings. Guangdong’s 116-112 home defeat was obviously not a good look but this is a veteran team that know they are going to the play-offs anyway and will laugh off the loss as one of those things. Indeed the dressing room, though unlikely to be filled with balloons and cake to celebrate the result, would still have been a more upbeat place than normal because of the history that had just been made on the court. Zhu Fangyu, the Tigers starting small forward scored 34 points on the night and it was enough to take him over the 10,000 point mark for his career. A special event for the player, it is also a huge landmark for the CBA itself. Zhu had long been the league’s leading scorer but his achievement against Liaoning represents another line in the sand for a player who has basically been China’s most reliable shooter for almost a decade.

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SHARK FIN HOOPS INTERVIEW: Matt Beyer

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Matt Beyer is currently the only westerner who is licensed to work as a sports agent in China. His company, Altius Culture, which Beyer founded and for whom he is its’ managing director, remains a critical access point for many America players looking to play in the Chinese Basketball Association. He was also a color commentator on Chinese television for the 2014 NBA finals. Before arriving in China, he spent time with the Milwaukee Bucks as the chief translator with Yi Jianlian.

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Yi Jianlian, Chinese Heroes And The Trouble With Their Childrens’ Passports

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Despite the upcoming CBA season on the horizon, Yi Jianlian probably has other things on his mind. The current poster boy of Chinese basketball is a father for the first time (and presumably the only time under the country’s one-child policy) after his wife, Jing Ling gave birth to a son a couple of days ago. This would normally be a chance for celebration but instead a mini-scandal is underway in China about the identity of a child who is barely a week old.

The root of the trouble appears to be where the baby was born as Yi’s wife reportedly gave birth to their son in a hospital in Los Angeles. This is not uncommon and it is estimated that 10,000 children were born to Chinese parents in American hospitals in 2012. However, the costs of getting to that point; securing a visa, comfortable flights for a heavily pregnant woman and up to three months of private maternity care can cost upwards of $50,000, meaning that only the wealthy in China can go through this process.

More significantly though, US law also allows children born within its borders to become automatic citizens; a very attractive bonus for prospective Chinese parents. Yet China does not allow dual citizenship, meaning that those same parents must choose whether their child is technically American or from the mainland. Given the lengths it took to get the mother into America to give birth, the Chinese passport is almost never the one taken. Yi and Jing Ling, a former beauty queen turned model, are not the first prominent couple to go through this process but Yi’s status in China means that things have not be received well by people on the ground.

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