Guangdong gunning for more glory

Updated: 2013-11-07 06:55

By Xinhua (China Daily)

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Seven months ago, Guangdong Hongyuan swept Shandong Gold in the Chinese Basketball Association Finals, tying Bayi's record of eight titles in the league's 18-year history.

The national team trio of Yi Jianlian, Zhu Fangyu and Wang Shipeng remains a key components in Guangdong's run for a ninth crown, along with veteran point guards Chen Jianghua and Liu Xiaoyu. But this year's squad won't have center Su Wei, who has moved to archrival Xinjiang Guanghui.

In terms of foreign players, Guangdong's first selection was Khalif Wyatt, an unsigned rookie from this year's NBA draft. The 22-year-old, 6-foot-2 shooting guard was waived by the Philadelphia 76ers after playing four preseason games and then landed a one-year contract with Guangdong.

Hongyuan's other foreign player is Josh Powell, who has played for six NBA teams and also for the CBA's Liaoning Hengye in 2011-12.

The new season will have a record 18 teams, with newcomers Sichuan Jinqiang expected to challenge the old order.

Since its promotion to the CBA, Sichuan has landed several significant signings, including Iranian Hamed E. Haddadi, hailed as the best center in Asia. Haddadi sprained his right ankle during a preseason game and will likely miss Friday's season opener against Guangdong .

Sichuan's other foreign players are Darius Johnson-Odom, a 2012 NBA rookie who was waived by the Los Angeles Lakers this year, and CBA veteran Herve Lamizana. They also recruited Lu Xiaoming, the CBA's first player to dish out more than 2,000 assists in the competition, from Shanxi .

Shandong Gold had a stunning performance last season, thanks to three foreign players - Pooh Jeter, Jackson Vroman and Zaid Abbass - who combined to average 53.2 points per game, nearly half of the team's total. However, the club may not be able to maintain its momentum in the new season, as Abbass has moved to Tianjin Ronggang and Vroman has also departed.

Jeter's new partner will be Donnell Harvey from Tianjin, the rebounding champion during last year's regular season.

Shandong's young players, Dingyan Yuhang, Tao Hanlin and Suiran, are set to get more opportunities to shine.

After winning the 2011-12 crown, the Beijing Ducks experienced a relatively dispspointing season. They acquired high-scoring Li Gen before last season tipped off, only to be eliminated by Shandong in the semifinals.

With Shandong losing depth in foreign players, Beijing is set to emerge as Guangdong's main challenger. The Ducks have national team player Sun Yue, along with Huang Haibei, Zhang Songtao and Li Wei - all four from the Aoshen club. As well, import Stephon Marbury received a three-year extension contract from the club. .

"Sun is an important transfer. He once played in the NBA, and his experience in international games will be of much help," said Marbury.

Following an acquisition controversy that lasted half a year, Shanxi Zhongyu will remain based in Taiyuan, and Marcus Williams has returned to the club from a six-month suspension after testing positive for marijuana.

Williams will continue his partnership with Charles Gaines to help Shanxi - which also acquired Chinese Taipei point guard Hung Chih-shan - climb back to the playoffs.

Last season's CBA featured three former NBA All-Stars: Marbury, Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas. McGrady averaged 25 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists, only to see his Qingdao Doublestar side languishing at the bottom of the table at the end of the regular season. Arenas played just 14 games for the Shanghai Sharks, due to nagging injuries.

Foreign players to watch in the new season include Sebastian Telfair (Tianjin Ronggang), Delonte West and Asian small forward Nikkhah Bahrami (Fujian SBS).

The 2013-14 CBA season will have a 34-round regular season split in hald by the All-Star Game.

Playoffs will open on Feb 18, and the finals will adopt a 2-3-2 format instead of the previous 1-2-2-2.

(China Daily 11/07/2013 page23)