Asian Leagues: Weekly Round up

Asian League

BEIRUT (FIBA Asia Champions Cup) -  It didn’t take much time for the action to pick up among leagues all over Asia. Just in the first week of play in 2019, we’ve seen teams break franchise winning streaks, players shattering personal records, and plenty more. The top teams have managed to stay at the top of their respective standings, but that doesn’t mean the excitement isn’t there.

Let’s check out what went on this past week around Asia!

The fire burns on into the New Year

It’s new year, but it’s not a new me for these teams who have been able to maintain their level of excellence in their respective leagues over the holiday break. There’s nothing more fun than to watch as teams break away on a long winning streak, as they continue to weather even more pressure from both the opposition and themselves in each successive victory.

CBA’s defending champions, Liaoning Flying Leopards are soaring high on an unreal 18 straight wins, breaking their franchise record of 17 along the way. They are still a couple of wins away from the all-time record of 26 consecutive wins set by the Guangdong Southern Tigers in 2014-2015, but they will at least come close to challenge that milestone. Guo Ailun is at the top of his game with career-high averages of 22 points and 6 rebounds and would be the first Chinese player in 10 seasons to finish with those numbers should it hold up.

Other teams with double-digit win streaks are Manama (Bahrain Premier League) who have 10 straight wins and Al Karkh (Iraqi Basketball Super League) with 11 consecutive triumph. Manama claimed two wins with Wayne Chism averaging 35.5 points this week including one on New Year’s Day over Muharraq (who were also undefeated).

 The Chiba Jets are blazing through the B.League as well, now with 8 straight wins. Yuki Togashi is still in MVP-form with season averages of 13.9 points and 5.3 assists as they look to avenge last seasons Finals loss.

 Jeonju KCC Egis have rattled off 5 successive wins in the KBL. They are still 8 whopping games behind league leaders Ulsan Mobis Phoebus, but are in the best shape to close that gap among all teams. Leading the way is recent weekly MVP Lee Jung Hyun who is averaging 15.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 1.8 steals during this run.

 Al Riyadi (Alfa Lebanese Basketball League) and Al Shorta (Iraqi Basketball Super League) are enjoying their 4th and 6thconsecutive wins, respectively, with previously injured stars Wael Arakji (Riyadi) and Mohammed Al Khafaji (Al Shorta) both putting up big games. Arakji scored 17 points in an important win over league rivals, Homentemen, while Al Khafaji poured in 25 points on 12-15 shooting in his first game back.

San Miguel Alab Pilipinas (ASEAN Basketball League) and Petrochimi (Iranian Super League) remain undefeated after their lone wins this past week. Petrochimi dealt Naft Abadan their 3rd straight loss for their 7th straight win. Alab Pilipinas had no trouble on their end to take down a visiting Wolf Warriors team as youngster Ethan Alvano teamed up with veteran Josh Urbiztondo for 41 points and 10 triples in a 105-95 win.

 The Fubon Braves of the Chinese Taipei Super Basketball League (SBL) are on a 6-game run of victories and are nipping at the heels of the teams at the top of the table.

 Knight in shining armor

The KBL defending champions were suffering 10 straight losses and trailing in the second half heading towards and 11thsuccessive defeat to Busan KT Sonicboom. Then a frustrated Kim Sun-Hyung took over with 17 points in the 3rd quarter, taking the game to overtime before the Seoul SK Knights succeeded in claiming the come-from-behind win, 91-90.

After the game, a teary-eyed Sun-Hyung apologized the fans for the team’s previous losing streak which was sent to a halt by his career-high of 49 points. Sun-Hyung shot 19-29 from the field to set the third most points scored by a Korean player in the KBL, though the top two record holders are still widely considered controversial.

Hongshan Arena, Home Sweet Home

The Xinjiang Flying Tigers are at 5th place in the CBA standings with a 20-8, but they remain the only team in the league to still have a spotless record at home with 14 straight wins in Hongshan Arena.

A healthy Hamed Haddadi has certainly helped fuel the surge, but it’s been their 23-year-old star Abudushalamu Adudurexiti who is currently in the direct spotlight. The national team player is on a five-game streak with at least 20 points, averaging 24.4 points, 7.0 rebounds on 62.1 FG% shooting.

Age is just a number

Levanga Hokkaido were unable to claim a victory this past week and are still anchored at the bottom of their division with a 8-23 record, but they got one win with a specific milestone by shooting guard Takehiko Orimo.

 In the 4th quarter of their game on January 5, Orimo knocked down a jumpshot to become the 3rd player ever in history to score 10,000 points and the first Japanese-born player to do so. This is the 26th season playing professionally who is roughly 4 months away from his 49th birthday. While Orimo is far from his days as a star, he is still contributing for Levanga with 5.7 points per game.

For Orimo, it seems like Basketball really never stops.

The longest second ever

The ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) had a perfect start to 2019 with an exciting bout between the Westports Malaysia Dragons and the visiting Saigon Heat on January 2. The home team Dragons clawed their way back from an 11-point deficit, and was up ahead in the waning seconds of the game before the Heat’s Murphy Burnatowski drained a long three-pointer. The game was then tied with only one second left on the clock.

Inbounding from the sidelines, Coach Jamie Pearlman drew up a beautiful play to set up Winston Shephard for the catch-and-shoot situation. The ball seemed to sit on the rim for an eternity before falling in to tally for the winning points.

Major Upset Alert

Al Najma ended 2018 as one of the hottest teams in the Bahrain Premier League on 4 straight wins with the form of star Mohammed Buallay… but started the year getting upset by Nuwaidrat, 99-70.

The victors were 1-8 coming into the game. Buallay had his usual 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists, but was completely overshadowed by recent Nuwaidrat addition and Guam national team player, Curtis Washington, who blasted for 46 points and 19 rebounds with 5 three-pointers.

Grand Introductions

There were multiple roster changes over the leagues but O’Darian Bassett and Orlando Johnson stood out most among them all.

 Bassett previously played for the Seoul SK Knights in the KBL earlier in the season, but signed with the Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team in the ABL and made his debut on January 3rd. The shifty guard has averaged 20.5 points and 3.5 assists with the team on a 3-game winning streak.

 SBL defending champions are turning things around in their season, going off for 3 straight wins with the addition of Orlando Johnson over the New Year break. Johnson averaged 23.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in three straight wins in three consecutive days.

Top notch passing in Chinese Taipei

The SBL is seeing some high-level guard from the league’s top guards, Lin Wei Han (Yulon Luxgen Dinos) and Lin Shu Wei (Fubon Braves).

 Wei Han leads the league with 7.8 dimes per contest and put up a ridiculous 19 assists in the Dinos recent win over the Dacin Tigers. The total is just one shy of the league’s All-Time record- which Wei Han previously set 3 games earlier on December 28, 2018.

 Shu Wei doesn’t have the same gaudy single-game numbers, but his statistical accomplishment has been just as impressive. In the past 3 games, Jeremy Lin’s little brother has put in 9 assists in each game and now sits as the league’s second assist leader at 5.4 per game.

Top of the Standings:

Alfa Lebanese Basketball League: Al Riyadi (7-1)

ASEAN Basketball League (ABL): San Miguel Alab Pilipinas (5-0)

Bahraini Premier League: Manama (10-0)

Chinese Basketball Association (CBA): Guangdong Southern Tigers (26-3)

Iranian Super League: Petrochimi (7-0)

Iraqi Basketball Super League: Al Karkh (11-0)

Korean Basketball League (KBL): Ulsan Mobis Phoebus (25-6)

Super Basketball League (SBL): Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor (11-7), Yulon Luxgen Dinos (11-7)

Philippines Basketball Association: Season starts January 14

Information is updated as of January 7, 2018.