ZHUJI, China, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- League leaders the Liaoning Flying Leopards defeated Qingdao Eagles 105-99 for the 11th win while Haddadi's triple double helped the Sichuan Blue Whales avenge their earlier defeat to the Shenzhen Aviators 100-92 on the penultimate matchday of the first phase of the 2020-21 Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) season here on Friday.
O.J. Mayo had an excellent 48-point play for Liaoning. Han Dejun, with 14 points and 10 rebounds, rose to fifth on the CBA all-time leading rebound table. Darius Adams recorded 39 points for Qingdao but only 9-for-28 shooting.
With their star guard Guo Ailun rested due to a ligament contusion, Liaoning was 44-48 behind after the first half. This was its lowest half-time score this season, despite 19 points from Mayo.
Putting up a more solid defense after the restart, Liaoning tied the game 69-69 with a 3-pointer from Wu Changze before Mayo continued his scoring showdown to turn the tables 85-79 with two difficult shots three minutes into the fourth quarter. Missing several attempts beyond the arc, Qingdao was unable to recover the deficit and Liaoning clinched the victory.
"We did not find our tempo in the first half without Guo Ailun, but managed to limit Adams with defense. I'm proud of my players," said Liaoning coach Yang Ming.
The win consolidated Liaoning's leading position in the league with a 11-1 record while Qingdao was fifth on the 19-team table. Looking into the next phase, Yang expects even better performance from a more mature team.
"I'm satisfied with our overall performance in the first phase. We had new members in the team and the young players shouldered their responsibility. However, the youngsters did not have stable performance in the matches, and we found different problems from every time. We mainly take the first phase as a chance to build better chemistry in the roster and the next phase will be crucial," Yang said.
Elsewhere on Friday, 35-year-old Hamed Haddadi had a triple-double of 21 points, 22 rebounds and 16 assists to power Sichuan past Shenzhen 100-92 with a 10-0 spurt in the last quarter. Li Yuanyu and Chen Chen scored 25 and 17 points respectively for Sichuan. Askia Booker led with 28 points and 11 rebounds for Shenzhen.
"Generally I'm very satisfied with our team's performance in this phase. We fought hard in every game, including in today's match. Tactically, we played well throughout, specially in controlling errors. We must train harder to improve ourselves in the offseason," said Zhou Jinli, coach of a Sichuan side that sits 11th with a 5-6 record.
Shooting only five for 29 from the 3-point line, the Guangzhou Loong Lions lost their nine-point advantage in the first quarter to fourth-placed Jilin Northeastern Tigers in a 101-94 defeat. Dai Huaibo had a game-high 25 points and seven rebounds to spearhead Jilin. Guangzhou head coach Guo Shiqiang praised the team's execution on the court despite the loss while Chen Yingjun, who led the team with 15 points, believed they needed to step up defense in the next phase.
The first phase this season will conclude on Saturday when the Zhejiang Golden Bulls face the Fujian Sturgeons and the Nanjing Monkey Kings entertain the Xinjiang Flying Tigers. The Shandong Heroes will be up against the Tianjin Pioneers before the Jiangsu Dragons wrap up the phase against the Beijing Royal Fighters. Enditem