ZHUJI, China, April 16 (Xinhua) — The Beijing Ducks withstood the Shenzhen Aviators’ comeback to win 108-97, and were later joined by the Shandong Heroes in the CBA quarterfinals here on Friday.
Jonathan Gibson led four Beijing players in double-digit points with 26. Zhu Yanxi shot 6 of 9 beyond the arc to score 18 points.
“Today we played the basketball that we wanted,” said Fan Ziming, who posted a double-double of 20 points and 12 boards.
With five players suspended, both Beijing and Shenzhen were desperate to have other players contribute on the court.
Trailing by 20 points at the intermission, Shenzhen whittled away Beijing’s lead to nine midway through the final period, but came no closer afterwards.
Beijing head coach Yannis Christopoulos said that his side grew up a lot as a team over the last period.
“The fighting spirit is always there, and the desire to never quit no matter what happened on and off the court,” he said.
Former Bayi duo Tian Yuxiang and Lei Meng scored nine points together for Beijing, while He Xining and Gu Quan hit three 3-pointers. The pair and Askia Booker combined for Shenzhen’s total of 24 points to open the game.
Beijing used an 11-0 late run to end the first quarter ahead 36-27. They stretched the advantage to 14 points early in the second quarter through Wang Xiaohui’s two shots in a row from 3-point range before setting the halftime score at 68-48.
Booker scored 11 straight points in Shenzhen’s 14-0 surge to pull the game back at 77-71, but Fan managed two three-point plays as Beijing possessed a 12-point margin heading into the final period.
Beijing kept their double-digit advantage until the final three minutes, when a Booker layup trimmed the gap to nine points, but Lei helped Beijing pull away again with a shot from 3-point range. Zhu’s sixth three-pointer with 1:11 remaining sealed Beijing’s victory.
Booker’s game-high 44 points were in vain. Gu and He added 18 and 15 points respectively.
“We failed to put on high-caliber defense in the first half, but did a good job after the break. It was like our performance this season,” commented Shenzhen coach Qiu Biao.
Other action saw Shandong weather Dallas Moore’s ferocious offensive play to get over the Guangzhou Loong Lions 119-107.
Moore registered a game-high 55 points, but got limited help from teammates, as Zheng Zhun was the only other Guangzhou player reaching double-figure points with 10.
Shandong displayed more balanced attacking power, with seven players hitting double digits. Gao Shiyan led with 24 points, and Lester Hudson chipped in 21.
Moore, the most recent Player of the Month, nailed 12 points as Guangzhou raced ahead 19-10. However, after Gao was substituted, Shandong answered with a 15-0 spurt to turn the tide and went up 30-24 as the first quarter expired.
Moore connected on five 3s in the second quarter, but Hudson shrugged off early sluggishness and got back his shooting touch, bagging 14 points to power Shandong to a 63-52 halftime lead.
Gao took charge back from the locker room, and Shandong extended their advantage to 20 points.
Guangzhou got as close as 12 points in the fourth quarter, but Hudson’s seven points from there steadied Shandong.
In Sunday’s quarterfinals, Beijing will take on defending champions the Guangdong Southern Tigers, and Shandong square off against the Xinjiang Flying Tigers. Enditem