By Andrew Crawford
Shanghai stayed in Guangdong province and Dongguan pulled the same trick as their neighbors by beating the Sharks with a couple of good individual performances and a warehouse full of clinical finishing. The margin was 107-99 and the Sharks once again found themselves caught up in their second shoot-out in three games.
Shavlik Randolph helped his side break away in the first quarter and the Leopards never looked back after the former Philadelphia 76er found his range from downtown. Gu Quan joined in the party as did Josh Akognon when he arrived in second quarter, and by the time the interval came around, Shanghai were 51-44 down and had been chasing the game since the opening minutes.
Spurned on by some presumably colourful language from Coach Panaggio, Shanghai came out swinging when the two sides reappeared after the break. Great, but the problem was that the home side had no intention of letting their guests peg them back. Indeed, the Leopards offense was in blistering form and Zhong Mian dropped a couple of big threes of his own to give his side room to breath as the Sharks repeatedly came close to getting back into the game only for a Dongguan player to make a vital shot and cancel out Shanghai’s mojo.
Ultimately Shanghai couldn’t dig themselves out of the hole they’d made for themselves after a bad start to the game- not only had it allowed the Leopards to build a lead that they could defend, but it gave Randolph the momentum to make crucial shots that were vital to the Leopards staying on top. When the final buzzer went, the Sharks were still down by eight points and a hard-working performance in which three players (Zhang, Harris and RFK) made 20 points or more ultimately counted for nothing.
Fujian Sturgeons beckons on Sunday for the Sharks, who probably can’t wait to get back to Shanghai following another frustrating time on the road. Ideally they’ll come home with a belated away win to give the squad motivation for the arrival of Kenyon Martin and his motley crew from Xinjiang. However, Liu Wei is still out for a few more days and though Peng Fei did okay, the young-ish squad will no doubt have missed the old warhorse’s know-how when the Sharks needed to score quickly. It’s a big ask to win at Fujian but right now, you could say that about every game away from home…
Andrew Crawford is a blogger for sharkfinhoops.com, the only English website about the fortunes of the Shanghai Sharks.