With a 114-111 victory, the Guangdong Tigers secured their 2019-2020 regular-season champion title six rounds before the tournament concludes. As the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) tournament enters another week in its regular season, 6 teams were eliminated from the playoffs, while 7 teams clinched their playoff spots. Also in this week’s CBA overview, we will feature the Jilin Northeast Tigers and their uncertain journey for a playoff spot.
Guangdong Continues its CBA Dominance
The Guangdong Tigers earned their 13th CBA regular-season champion title after defeating the Qingdao Eagles on July 8. Dominating the league with a 39-2 record in the 2019-2020 CBA season (as of July 12), Guangdong demonstrated its competitiveness on winning the team’s 10th CBA Finals title in the playoffs.
This is the 25th consecutive season for the Guangdong Tigers to appear in the CBA playoffs. The Tigers have benefited significantly from its player development programs since the early 2000s. Different from other teams in the league, the Guangdong Tigers were able to attract young talents not only from nearby regions but also from the entire country. Notable basketball players such as Du Feng (the current head coach of the Tigers), Zhu Fangyu (General Manager of the Tigers), former Chinese national team player Wang Shipeng, and former NBA player Yi Jianlian helped the basketball team from Southern China build its dominance in the CBA tournament.
As the 2019 CBA champion, Guangdong is aiming to win its second title following the team’s success last year. While the team lost its top scorer Marshon Brooks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no doubt that the Guangdong Tigers will be one of the most competitive contenders for the 2020 CBA champion title.
7 Teams Clinch Playoff Berths, while 6 Teams Eliminated from the Playoffs
With 6 games left to play in the regular season, the Liaoning Flying Leopards and Zhejiang Gold Bulls joined the other top 5 teams and became the latest teams to clinch their place in the 2020 CBA playoffs.
The Liaoning Flying Leopards experienced some significant changes in the past month. Former head coach Guo Shiqiang resigned from his position as the Liaoning team suffered in their first few games since the league’s return. The Liaoning team was able to win both two games in the past week and now ranks 7th in the CBA tournament.
With players like O.J. Mayo, Guo Ailun, and Zhao Jiwei on its squad, the Liaoning Flying Leopards will be able to compete with any other teams in the league. While the 2019-2020 CBA regular season may not be the best performance for the 2018 CBA champion, the Liaoning Flying Leopards are certainly on the right path to return to their prime performance in the games to come.
The Jiangsu Dragons and Shanghai Sharks became the latest teams to be eliminated from the playoffs. With 7 out of 12 playoff teams confirmed and 6 teams eliminated from the playoffs, the remaining 7 teams will battle for the final five playoff berths available in the final stages of the regular season. The Shenzhen Aviators and Nanjing Tongxi Monkey King are currently ranked 13th and 14th in the CBA tournament. They will need to give their best performances to keep their playoffs goals alive in the coming days.
The CBA league formally announced its playoff schedules last week in Qingdao. The 2020 CBA playoffs will be hosted in the city of Qingdao starting from July 30. The playoffs will be going through the round of 12, quarterfinals, semifinals, and the finals. The semi-finals and the finals will be played in a best-of-three series format.
Did the Jilin Northeast Tigers Recruit the Wrong Player?
Despite showing some extraordinary performances since the league’s return, the Jilin Northeast Tigers only won 3 of the 10 games since the league’s return in late June. Chinese players from the Jilin squad have performed well, but the team’s newly recruited foreign player Sean Hill Jr. has received significant criticism over his inconsistent performances. Hill scored only 5 points in the 88-95 loss against the Zhejiang Golden Bulls.
Sean Hill Jr. joined the Jilin team to replace Dominic Jones, who averaged 37.8 points per game in the 2019-2020 CBA season before the league went into suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jones was the league’s top scorer but was not able to return to the Jilin team after the CBA league announced its returns. Hill played for Chicago State in the NCAA for one year, and went undrafted in the 2015 NBA draft. The 6”2’ guard spent a few years in overseas tournaments with different teams before landing with the Jilin Northeast Tigers.
Hill Jr. averaged 19 points and played 37 minutes per game in the 10 games he played for Jilin, but his games are not as efficient as the other players on the team. Jiang Yuxing, the No.1 pick from the 2018 CBA draft, was able to play 5 games, scoring more than 20 points since the CBA league’s return, including a career-high 36 points in the 115-117 loss against the Beijing Royal Fighters.
Hill Jr. only scored 8 points in his first game for Jilin against the Sichuan Blue Whales and 5 points in the 88-95 loss against the Zhejiang Golden Bulls. When asked about the foreign player’s performance, Jilin’s head coach Wang Han defended Hill Jr., citing fatigue as the primary reason. “He played a lot in the previous games, and he is getting tired. In the games against Beijing and Zhejiang, he is not used to the intensive defense. We need to encourage and help him more.” Despite support from the team’s head coach, Sean Hill Jr. revealed that he is not able to fill the gap left by the departure of Dominic Jones. The differences between the two foreign players could probably explain Jilin’s declining performances after the league return in late June.
Jilin now ranks 10th in the CBA league. While the team is very likely to enter the 2020 CBA playoffs, the team’s front office may have some second thoughts in the signing of Sean Hill Jr. By adding a foreign player to its squad, Jilin Northeast Tigers lost its preferential treatment as an “All-Chinese team” when playing against other teams with foreign players. While looking at statistics, Hill Jr. was able to make significant contributions to the Jilin team in the past 10 games. But with a 3-7 record since the return of the CBA, Jilin may be better off by offering more opportunities for its young domestic players and could have won more games with an all-domestic player squad.