CBA’s Shandong striving for playoffs

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Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) side Shandong Heroes are confident of contending for a playoff spot despite having to play with an all-domestic roster when the league resumes.

Shandong’s overseas duo of Lester Hudson and James Mays are unable to return to China due to current restrictions on international travel, meaning that Shandong will have to rely entirely on its Chinese players.

All Shandong players tested negative for COVID-19 after two rounds of testing, and need undergo another round after arriving in China’s southern city of Dongguan, where they will play their remaining matches in a revised tournament format.

“We will strive to win in every game,” said Shandong head coach Gong Xiaobin. “We are ready to play without foreign players. We will play team basketball, and drive our offense through defense.”

Shandong ranked fourth in the 2019-20 CBA league before it was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic with 30 rounds of matches having been played. To advance to the playoffs, Shandong must finish the regular season in the top 12.

“Firstly, we will strive for a playoff spot, and try to earn a better place in the standings,” Gong noted.

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