Players in action during a CBA game between Guangdong Southeast Tigers and Sichuan Blue Whale, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, January 5, 2020. (Photos: CGTN)
Basketball fans in south China's Guangdong province might have mixed feelings on Sunday as Guangdong Southeast Tigers eased past Sichuan Blue Whale 119-108, while Guangzhou Loong Lions suffered their 13th straight defeat in the Guangdong Derby against Shenzhen Aviators, losing 96-90, in the 25th round of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).
Down by 37-20 in the first quarter, Sichuan fought hard till the last minute with four of its players fouled out, but Guangdong were just too good for the team which are in 17th place of the 20-team table.
With their eighth consecutive win, the defending champions held onto their lead in the CBA standings with a 23-2 record.
Veteran center Yi Jianlian grabbed 27 points and nine rebounds for Guangdong, surpassing Mengke Bateer to stand second on the CBA all-time regular season rebound leaders list with 4,179 rebounds. Tyler Hansbrough put up a show of 41 points and 19 rebounds in vain for Sichuan.
Yi Jianlian of Guangdong Southeast Tigers in action during a CBA game against Sichuan Blue Whale in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, January 5, 2020.
In the clash between the other two teams in Guandong province, Guangzhou went close to snapping their 12-game losing streak as they kept a tiny lead over Shenzhen in the first three quarters on road.
However, the hosts launched a 10-2 run at the beginning of the fourth quarter to turn the tables.
Trailing by 94-90 with 21.3 seconds remaining, Guangzhou saw their last hopes dashed as Chen Yingjun, who was hot with 19 points, committed a five-second throw-in violation. Shenzhen's Dwight Buycks was sent to free throw line and clinched the victory 96-90, adding two more points to his 23 points and 14 rebounds performance.
Players in action during a CBA between Shenzhen Aviators and Guangzhou Long Lions in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China, January 5, 2020.
"It was a tough game, especially when we didn't get a good start," Shenzhen coach Wang Jianjun said. "In the second half we defended well and were determined on shots so we could win the game at last."
Despite the loss, Guangzhou coach Juan Antonio Orenga praised his players. "We played well both in offense and defense, and we deserve a win. I'm proud of the team," the Spaniard said.
In another highly anticipated clash on Sunday, Beijing Royal Fighters overcame a 31-17 deficit in the first quarter to beat Shanghai Sharks 112-96.
Sun Yue of Beijing Royal Fighters in action during a CBA game against Shanghai Sharks, Shanghai, China, January 5, 2020.
34-year-old Sun Yue paced Beijing with a game-high 25 points, including 12 in the third quarter where Beijing turned the tables with a 43-25 run.
Sani Sakakini had a double-double of 20 points and 18 rebounds. Ju Mingxin and Ray McCallum scored 18 apiece for Shanghai.
Elsewhere, Xinjiang beat Zhejiang Golden Bulls 120-111 to extend their winning streak to eight games, keeping pressure on Guangdong. Liaoning Flying Leopard, with top scorer Lance Stephenson and All-Star guard Guo Ailun being sidelined due to flu, were stunned 122-103 by Zhejiang Lions. Nanjing Monkey Kings edged Jiangsu Dragons 119-111.