By Andrew Crawford
Shanghai’s Mike Harris, going up against Shandong’s Sui Ran during overtime.
Another road game, another hard defeat, another ‘what-might-have-been?’ result, and another missed opportunity for some much-needed positivity. The Sharks fell to their second successive defeat in a game which had flashes of hope, before being ultimately quashed in the cruelest of fashions.
Mike Harris was dynamite, dialing up 39 points and 18 rebounds in a huge performance, while four other teammates also scored double digits. Make no mistake, Shanghai can do some damage. But for all their fire power, the Sharks need to realise that there is no glory in coming out swinging if you still get carried off on a stretcher at the end of the fight.
Shandong raced to a 27-20 lead by the end of the first quarter as Alan Anderson rained shots down from all over the court, and the signs looked ominous for the Sharks.
Step forward Harris, who along with Zhang Zhaoxu, took it upon themselves to justify their paychecks and set about making up the deficit. Anderson continued to make his shots, and Sui Ran had no qualms pinging in threes when given the chance.
But by halftime, Harris and Zhang had hustled and harried their way to a combined 27 points and 17 rebounds, leaving Shanghai down by only a point, as the Lions led 51-50.
With both coaches aware that their sides couldn’t lose against a similarly matched side, the third quarter resembled an offensive free-for-all. For every big heave from downtown by Sui or Sun Jie, Harris would find a way to earn a free-throw or find an open look for a team-mate. With Harris and Anderson, both teams had settled on their go-to guy, and both sides began the fourth quarter with Shandong up 73-72.
The flurry of offense continued as the game ticked away. Liu Wei briefly led the Sharks to an 79-75 led before Othello Hunter helped restore parity. Zhang and Shandong’s Tao Hanlin took turns to steal the advantage for their side, before Shanghai eventually, found themselves with a golden opportunity to take the victory, when Harris made a crucial extra-point to give the Sharks an 89-87 lead with twenty seconds on the clock.
Yet, Shanghai were doomed to repeat the problems of the previous game. Hunter made the basket (obviously) and Harris, already the player of the game, just couldn’t rescue his team in the game’s waning moments. Anderson got his hands up and got the crucial block and the game was tied at 89. Overtime.
The Sharks would fare no better in the extra period, as Sun, Anderson and Sui combined to score for the Lions, winning the game 98-95 for Shandong. Once again, through bad luck and a poor start, Shanghai returns to their hotel with the knowledge of what could have been…
Andrew Crawford is a blogger for sharkfinhoops.com, the only English website about the fortunes of the Shanghai Sharks.