Guangdong Southern Tigers win 11th CBA championship

Society & Culture

American Sonny Weems led the way. “My goal is to get four [CBA championships],” he said afterwards. “And once I get four, I’ll be considered the best American player to ever play in the CBA. And that is my goal.”

The Guangdong Southern Tigers won its 11th CBA championship title on Saturday, overcoming the Liaoning Flying Leopards 110-103 in overtime of the final game of the three-game series. It was the first time the decisive game of a CBA finals had gone into overtime.

Playing at home in Dongguan, Guangdong started strong, but Liaoning roared back behind national team star Guō Àilún 郭艾伦, erasing a 13-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime knotted at 99.

But the Flying Tigers ran out of steam. In the extra frame, Guangdong’s Sonny Weems, aided by Liaoning’s sudden inability to secure a defensive rebound, took over, scoring six of his team’s first eight points. The 2020 CBA finals MVP, Weems finished as the game’s top scorer, with 29 points, and added eight assists and 10 rebounds.

Guangdong and Liaoning were the two best teams in the CBA this season, finishing one-two in the standings. The much-anticipated finals didn’t disappoint. Guangdong won Game 1 88-83, while Liaoning evened up the series with a 102-98 overtime win in Game 2.

But for now, there’s no dispute about the CBA’s best team. The Southern Tigers have now won three titles in a row.

Under the stewardship of former national team player Dù Fēng 杜锋, Guangdong has built a dynasty based on seasoned pros such as Zhōu Péng 周鹏 and Yì Jiànlián 易建联. (Yi hasn’t played since rupturing his right Achilles tendon last August during Game 3 of the CBA finals against Liaoning.) But this postseason saw the emergence of a youngster, Hú Míngxuān 胡明轩, who was selected Finals MVP.

“I would like to thank Guangdong for giving chances to young players like me,” the 23-year-old Hu said. “This is an award for the entire team. It is the power of our team that made me who I am.”

An emotional Du was quick to praise the work of his veterans after the game, especially the work of his captain, Zhou Peng, “He is the most important player in our squad. His critical block in our quarterfinal against Beijing saved our season. He is always here and there on the defensive end. His contribution is not reflected in numbers sometimes, but he never complains about anything, and he helps young players grow all the way. I respect him the most.”

As for Weems — a journeyman who’s had stints in the NBA, Lithuania, and Russia before finding a home in China — he told Xinhua after the game that his ambition is simply to win. “My goal is to win championships. I don’t play for stats. I don’t play for anything else. I only play for championships.”

With his third title, the 34-year-old guard has drawn level with Stephon Marbury as the foreign players with the most CBA championships.

“I have all the respect for Stephon Marbury because he was one of the first international players that came over here and was really successful and he paved the way for players like me,” Weems said. “He has three championships. And my goal is to get four. And once I get four, I’ll be considered the best American player to ever play in the CBA. And that is my goal.”

~

Former Grimsby Town and Chinese World Cup defender Zhang Enhua dies at 48

Grimsby Town v Burnley , February 17, 2001 (photo: Action Images / Mick Walker)

Former China national soccer team captain and defensive stalwart Zhāng Ēnhuá 张恩华 died on Thursday, according to Xinhua. No cause of death was given.

Capped 59 times for his country, Zhou was part of China’s 2002 World Cup squad in Japan and South Korea. It remains the only time that the Chinese men’s national team has qualified for a World Cup.

Zhou began his professional career at Dalian Shide (now Dalian Pro) in 1994, winning seven league titles between 1994 and 2002 and a Chinese FA Cup in 2011. During his time at the Dalian, the six-foot center back made 178 appearances for the club.

Zhou moved to English minnows Grimsby Town on loan in 2000, where he became a cult hero amongst Mariners fans during his time in the English Championship, even being interviewed for the club’s matchday program last year.

Returning to China after his brief stint in Europe, Zhou continued to play for Dalian before moving to Tianjin Teda and South China in Hong Kong.

Zhang passed away one day after celebrating his 48th birthday.

~

Other Stories:

Li Ning: China ‘Prince of Gymnastics’ turned sportswear giant (SupChina)

Alleged cover up of non-payment of wages as Liaoning Hongyun team bus goes on sale to pay salaries (CNA)

Sun Yang not at National Championships despite CCTV reports (Swim Swam)

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver interviewed by Time, dodges questions on China Human Rights abuses (Time)


The China Sports Column runs every week on SupChina.