Saturday, October 21, 2006

Zhejiang vs. Fujian

For the past week or so, Arthur Volbert over at AsiaBasket has been going on about a "new name to remember". Ding Jinhui is supposedly only 16 years old, yet he scored first 22, then 25 points in consecutive games. However, the game after that, he only scored 5, so I was very pleased when CCTV-5 decided to show his team on Friday night, as I wanted to see whether he was just a flash-in-the-pan, or the real thing.

The game itself was quite exciting, as Fujian, who was down almost the whole second half, made a push in the last minute, thanks to a couple of threes. Zhejiang had a one-point lead and the ball with about 50 seconds left, but they missed (the game recap at said it was a foul, but I didn't think so), and a lob from Fujian's Chris Porter got Fujian a wide-open layup with 22 seconds left. Soumaila Samake (a big Nigerian dude) had a last chance, but that was off the rim, and so Fujian came away the winners.

This was my second time to see Fujian's Yang Chao, and I became even more impressed with him than ever. He scored 32 points (a team-high), shot 8-of-14, made two threes, and was instrumental in bringing Fujian back from an 11-point deficit. He can definitely shoot, as he lit it up from 20+ feet several times. Could he make the national team? I think it's a definite possiblity. Maybe not for the Asian Games this year, or even next year, but sometime in the future, he definitely has a fighting chance. He's still only 20, so his path can only go upwards from here.

However, the big question is Ding. Was his scoring streak a fluke, or was it a sign of things to come? Well, after watching him play a full game, I can't say I was terribly impressed with him. He's solid, but not great. However, for a 16-year old to be solid when playing against guys twice his age, then solid is great. In 22 minutes, he had 8 points and 5 rebounds, shooting 2-of-6. He hustled and he fought for rebounds, which is more than what can be said for most top CBA players. He's got a good foundation, and those 20-point games will give him a lot of confidence. If he keeps on building on his solid base, then his road will be very long and very rosy.

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