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The CBA enter's it's final reckoning

Game Changer: The CBA Enters It's Reckoning Period

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As the 18th CBA Championship regular season draws to a close, for Tianjin Plus, Paul Ryding looks at a sometimes testing year for the domestic Chinese game, and examines the leading teams in the league.


It comes as little surprise to see Guangdong Southern Tigers top the CBA standings as the regular season winds down. At the time of writing, with two games of the regular season left, the Southern Tigers sit at the top of the standings having lost just one of their last 17 games. That defeat came in an enthralling match with defending champions Beijing Ducks back in February, and is one of just four defeats this season for Guangdong. That day a rampant Ducks second half performance saw them blast past the Southern Tigers in the second half to win 93-82, courtesy of 41 points from the Ducks’ star player, Stephon Marbury.


Guangdong are looking to go level with Bayi Rockets as the most decorated team in CBA history this season. Having won or finished runners-up in each of the last 10 seasons, another championship title would see them celebrating their eighth CBA championship.


Shandong Lions have hit an incredible late season run of form to fire themselves into second spot in the standings after taking 15 wins on the spin. Their forward duo of Zaid Abbas and Pooh Jeter have been in sparkling form of late propelling the Lions to a record of 23-7 before an encounter with Guangdong.


Current CBA champs the Beijing Ducks have enjoyed an impressive 2012/13 campaign after scooping their first CBA crown last season. Third in the standings, with their playoff place assured and a record of 21-9, the Ducks, though not spectacular this season, will still be a threat come playoff time. Having won six of their last eight outings, it seems Marbury and his teammates are hitting their stride at just the right time of the season.


Alas, it has not been such a sparkling campaign for the struggling Tianjin Golden Lions. They still have a mathematical chance of making the playoffs, but with the team on a nine-game losing skid, it looks likely that their year will end with the climax of the regular season, and once again, there will be no post-regular season for the Golden Lions. Tianjin have now missed out on post-season involvement every year since they joined the CBA in ’08/’09. Ugly scenes marred Tianjin’s loss to Qingdao in January when assistant coach Gary Gaspard had to be physically restrained after a series of contentious refereeing decisions.


The year has been a successful one for the profile of the CBA. The season’s two big foreign imports, Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas have wowed crowds sporadically throughout the year. And Quincy Douby’s incredible 75-point performance for Zhejiang Golden Bulls against Shanxi Brave Dragons was another of the season’s highlights.  The 2012/3 season looks set to provide a thrilling finale with the battle for the playoffs likely to go right down to the wire.


However, problems remain in the Chinese game. Officiating standards continue to be an issue, and instances of on-court violence – occasionally involving fans – continue to plague the game. The behavior of some of the foreign imports to the league this season has also been in the spotlight at various times this year. From the Sina Weibo outburst of McGrady – however justified his reasons – which resulted in a fine and suspension, to the six-month suspension of Shanxi Brave Dragons’ Marcus Williams for marijuana use, on occasion the league’s most high-profile players have made the headlines for the wrong reasons.


Despite its problems, the CBA’s star continues to rise as it attracts more and more big-name foreign players.

 

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