Zhou Qi has literally eaten alive Guangdong today, while Blatche has killed from deep en route to a commanding 17-point win in Urumqi. But is this enough to award the Mongolians a place right at the top of it all?
The answer, of course, is in the records, and is a resounding “nope”. Due to a narrow 6-point win Liaoning, who was in the driver’s seat pretty much all game long and could just keep a thin lead when Dongguan came up with some stops and made a run of its own, is still unbeaten and solidly in first place. Kudos to them, as they get awarded our…
1 – Liaoning (0)
Credit their outstanding offense and a gradually more confident and aggressive Han Dejun for their position. But it’s really been a team affair: Hudson is playing his way to another MVP title, Han, He and Guo have been an elite starting unit and Thompson is providing a 20-10 menace night in and night out.
2 – Beijing (0)
A team where Marbury is slowly backing down, content to stay in the mix and let his teammates get the attention of critics and fans, Beijing has had two narrow wins this week but is in great shape. Morris is playing monster basketball and Li Gen has emerged as a great partner-in-crime for the 6’11” big man. Sun Yue is having a slow start, while Zhu Yanxi has shot well and the rotations have been deep. Really, this time looks like it could play much better than that, and this is saying much about the second-best record in the league.
3 – Guangsha (+2)
I’ll go ahead and put Guangsha ahead of the Southern Tigers in the wake of their good pace. Three wins this week for the second-best rebounding team in the country, although against weak opponents. Shooting percentages haven’t been necessarily ideal, but 61 rebounds today vs Sichuan are a stunning number and that’s really what sets them apart.
4 – Guangdong (0)
Could have been higher, but this team, as I said last week, is taking it slow. Nothing scary, but their easy approach has been fatal today vs Xinjiang, a matchup which proved to be brutal for the perennial contenders. Their other weekly games, vs Shanxi and Chongqing, were never less than a sure thing.
5 – Xinjiang (-2)
Two horrific losses to Jiangsu and Dongguan can’t just get overlooked solely because they beat Guangdong. Missing Crawford (and, vs Dongguan, Xire) has been painful, as Douglas and Brown feasted on Xinjiang’s guards with 37 and 40 points respectively. Still, Bonneau has shown comforting signs of life today and Blatche is probably the only serious candidate to steal the MVP trophy from Hudson’s hands.
6 – Dongguan (0)
A loss to Shanxi (in which, might I add, Zhang Kai had 19-6-8!) is the clearest evidence of how this team is good but can’t get over the hump. Brown is still looking for reliable and consistent sparring partners besides Diogu (who will not see much 4th quarter minutes), but Gu Quan depends on his shot and every other player is inconsistent, as Zhang has games where he resembles his old 20-10 self, but is aging quickly and guys like Sun and Meng alternate between 20-point games and 5-point efforts.
7 – Jilin (+4)
Two valuable wins vs Shandong and Qingdao and another vs Fujian have helped this team move upwards, just as Jones is starting to trust guys like Bowles (excellent week for him and Madanly) and Zhong Cheng. 28 assist in three games for Dominique, and this team is rising up.
8 – Shandong (0)
Still alive, still up to the task, Shandong has recoverd well from the aforementioned loss to Jilin by beating Shanghai and Qingdao. Consistent scoring from Li Jingyu and Ding Yanyuhang has brought this team to where it is now, they just have to keep scrambling.
9 – Shanxi (0)
Great win vs Dongguan and an inevitable loss to Guangdong have kept this team in the early bout for the playoffs, hoping some of the locals will pick it up a bit (Ge Zhaobao, 3 boards per game as a starting 7-footer?! Seriously?!).
10 – Qingdao (-3)
Things are going south for the Eagles, with 4 losses in a row. Narrow ones, while we’re at it (the 8-point deficit vs Jilin is the largest they’ve given up), but alas they count just as much. This team needs to find some local help, or it’s going to be a tough run.
See you tomorrow for part 2!