I added one more player to the 'Player Updates' section. I put up a Filipino player, so I left I needed to make sure to have a Lebanese player up there also. Ali Haidar is going to be fun to watch the rest of the year.
Two games last night, both competitive, but the level of play could not have been more different. Worst teams played each other and best teams played each other.
Bank of Taiwan 84 - KKL 77
KKL and Bank of Taiwan played the first game, in a match-up of what very likely will be the bottom two teams in the league. KKL was without import player Sheldon Bailey, who has the left the team. There are conflicting reports as to why he left. This is not a surprising turn of events, as Bailey was initially listed as "under testing" when the rosters were announced this season, and played poorly in last weekend's games. KKL was able to keep the game close despite being a man down, but Bank of Taiwan was able to hold on to the lead with solid free throw shooting down the stretch.
Jason Faulknor, who struggled mightily in his first game against Taiwan Beer, contributed a solid 16 and 6 to Bank of Taiwan's win. Faulknor really ramped the defensive intensity in the 4th quarter and was all over the court down the stretch. With that kind of effort he certainly has a place on an under-sized Bank of Taiwan team.
Taiwan Beer 80 - Yulon 71
In a match-up of two of the league's traditional powerhouses, Taiwan Beer proved to the league that they are the team to beat this season. TB jumped out to a twenty point lead at one point in the 3rd period, but Yulon fought back to make the game close in the 4th. In the end though, the play of Emmanuel Jones and Cheng Jen-Wei proved to tough for Yulon to handle.
Jones had a particularly impressive performance on Wednesday night that showed he will be a great addition in this league. Any import who can put up 21 and 20 against Tseng Wen-Ting is going to be just fine.
Alex Hartman is done for the season with the ASEAN Basketball League's Westport KL Dragons. On the team website the Dragons' management explained that "he has been having some issues with his form of late, we had to do what is best for the team." Hartman has been off the past three games, but his season averages are virtually identical to his averages last year when he helped lead Satria Muda to a surprise runner-up finish.
With only three games left before the playoffs this is the same kind of move teams pulled last year. While I am all for winning, I also feel strongly that the ABL needs to work harder to build fan connections to players. That is not going to happen when you are releasing one of your most popular players with a month left in the season and bringing in a player who no one in Asia has ever heard of. No matter how good he is, that is not the way to connect fans with the players. Plus, do you really need another inside player when Nakiea Miller is leading the league in rebounds and blocks?
The best part though is that Hartman will be staying in Malaysia through the end of the season. I imagine that they were locked into paying him so have decided to keep him around. As explained by a Dragons official on the team's facebook page: "Hartman is and will always be a DragonForce. He's not on the squad but he's still around assisting the team with training and gameplays. Hartman will be around till the end of the season."
The one thing I have enjoyed as this story has unfolded are the comments from fans on the team's facebook page. Hartman is a popular player, and there are a number of dissatisfied fans. I am happy to see that the Dragons have a fan base that cares about what is going on with their team. That says a lot about the future of this young league.
A good article about Justin Lieth, the new import can be found here.
There is a new update on Jeremy Tyler in the Player Update section.
Player Update - Jeremy Tyler
4 straight games coming up 1/6-1/9, the lazy pace of the early season is over for the Apache.
Rashad Jones-Jennings grabbing a board in Week 1action.
Despite the unbelievably awkward opening ceremonies between Saturday evening's two games, it was nice to welcome professional basketball back to Taiwan. Before I talk about the games and the players, I first need to mention the event that to me summed up all that is wrong with the SBL, but also all the potential of the league. During the aforementioned awkwardness between the two games the Master of Ceremonies was sporting a Lakers' championship shirt. Taiwan loves the Lakers. So much so that a person kicking off the new season stands at center court wearing their shirt, and not a SBL shirt. For a league that is not financially strong, and has a little to no brand appeal, you would think they would use every opportunity to promote their teams or their league. Taiwanese love basketball, but it seems too often that love is projected across the Pacific to their favorite NBA teams. Enough with the rant, time for the action! My thoughts from the first five games in no particular order.
Photo courtesy of TOM Online.
I joked about it two days ago when discussing Javaris Crittenton's departure from the CBA, I guess I really should have put money on it!
"Though Sina is reporting that the team is cutting Francis, a source speaking to NiuBBall.com indicated that the break-up was mutual and that both sides were equally ready to move on. Francis, who was brought in on a large contract after Beijing head coach, Min Lulei, flew out to the U.S. to watch him work out in November, became quickly frustrated with Min over his lack of minutes and felt as if the team was merely using him to sell tickets and merchandise. Francis had not played more than five minutes in a single game, and had received his second straight DNP-CD tonight against Jiangsu after not getting any action on Friday against Bayi."
I for one am relieved that this happened early in the season. I hope that they look closely at their needs before signing a new import. With Lee Hsueh-Lin manning the point I see their biggest need being a scoring wing player. Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside was not to far off when he floated Rashad McCants name. McCants is the kind of scoring guard who has found success in the CBA (see Andre Emmett and Quincy Douby as examples). But if not McCants, high scoring guards who are in game shape are not that difficult to find.
On the other side of the story, it will be interesting to see where Francis ends up next . . . or should I say whose headache he will be next?
The influx of NBA-talent into the CBA this off-season was the most publicized topic in the history of Asian basketball outside of Yao Ming. It seemed that all the major news outlets had at least one story on the subject. As the names of former NBA players signing contracts with CBA teams kept rolling in, discussion about China, and the CBA in particular, taking on a new importance in the world basketball scene increased. While much of that talk is justified, the excitement about many of the NBA veterans has proved not to be.
Crittenton is the third former NBA player to be cut this season, joining Ricky Davis and Patrick O’Bryant on early flights home. More than anything I think these cases need to be a lesson for CBA teams. Crittenton and O’Bryant were both drafted on potential and “upside.” The reason they are not in the NBA (not including Crittenton’s encounter with Arenas) is that neither of them lived up to this potential. Frankly, they were not good enough to be in the NBA. Anyone who watched them play in the NBA knew that Crittenton is neither a point guard nor a shooting guard and that O’Bryant is the world’s tallest match stick and has a phobia for painted areas. I discussed Ricky Davis a few days ago, but to reiterate, he too is a player who never lived up to his potential. It is flawed logic on the part of CBA teams to think that just because a player was in the NBA they will be successful in China. Time to do a little more scouting!
The interesting bet at this point would be who is next. Mike James’ name is floating around as a potential cut, but after that who is not going to live up to expectations? Does anyone know how much of Francis’ contract is guaranteed? I can imagine Beijing is rereading his contract trying to find an out clause . . . or they are just praying for him to flick someone off again?
Last year I started watching the PBA regularly for the first time in a decade. The PBA is perhaps the most amusing league to watch in the entire world if you can train yourself to suspend reality and forget about everything you have ever learned about fundamentally sound basketball. Anyway, last year I got the biggest kick out of watching Gabe Freeman play for both the Patriots in the ASEAN Basketball League and the San Miguel Beermen in the PBA. Freeman is the perfect import for the PBA as there is nothing Filipino fans enjoy more than passionate and hustle-filled basketball. Freeman is one part Artest, another part Rodman, and another part scoring machine without a jump shot (kind of like glory days Larry Hughes). While this may not sound enticing to anyone who knows basketball, it makes for the most entertaining import in the league. The best part is that no one seems to care that he can't shoot from the outside and is both foul and turnover prone. I think his San Miguel coach Siot Tanquingcen put it best when he paid Freeman the ultimate back-handed compliment: "He is not the most talented skill-wise . . . but you can't measure his heart!"
I am looking forward to at least five more ABL games with Freeman this year. Unfortunately if the reports are true, Freeman is well above the 6'4" height limit for the next PBA conference. Let's hope he has "shrunk" a little over the past year!
I have been hearing the Ricky Davis rumors for the past few days, but today NiuBball threw Mike James' name into the rumor mill as well.
I get the Davis rumors. After watching him play in two games it is obvious that he is not the kind of player who will find success in the CBA. His shot is too inconsistent and he has struggled to create off 1-on-1 opportunities. I think we look at players through rose-colored glasses when they make the move overseas. We assume that the competition overseas will be weaker so the problems they had in the US will somehow disappear. Ricky Davis excelled on bad teams. Being the star on the pre-Lebron Cavs is not a resume highlight to brag about.
The Mike James talk though surprises me. I have watched two of his games also, and frankly have just felt bad for him the whole time. The Chinese players on his team are AWFUL. He should two or three times as many assists, but his teammates miss the short jumpers or three-pointers. What surprises me more is that the team thinks Marcus Williams will somehow be better than James. Is there anything Williams can do on the court that James doesn't do? How about replace Josh Boone? It is not like he has been playing like a young Shaq. Once again, blaming a slow start on the foreign players is by far the easiest thing for team owners to do, but until their local stars Ding Jinhui and Jin Lipeng start playing consistently they are going to have trouble winning.
I am three games behind in my Jet Chang updates. My apologies to the select few who read this blog!
The first two games came in the annual D2 Hawaii Tournament. I only had the opportunity to watch the first game unfortunately. Unfortunate because the first game against UH-Hilo was probably Chang's worst showing of the year. The Vulcan's defense was keyed on him and his shooting numbers suffered accordingly. He managed just 11 points on 4/16 shooting. While his personal performance was not up to his usual standard, the Seasiders came away with a 13 point victory. The next night Chang was back to lead the team with 19 points, unfortunately the Seasiders struggled to contain Chaminade's hot shooting and lost by 11points.
After a week long break (filled with exams) the Seasiders played their last game of 2010, securing a win at home against Western Oregon. Chang led the way in scoring again with 21 points, including four 3-pointers. For the season Chang is averaging 17.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, and 1.4 apg. BYU-H needs him to continue scoring at this rate in the new year when the conference schedule begins.
The next game for the Seasiders is January 4th against Olivet Nazarene of Illinois. I do not think this game will be broadcast online. Luckily though, the next three games will be played on byutv.org. I will post exact times and links to those games when the dates draw nearer. Check back in for that info.