Those two famous Chinese basketball rivals, the Beijing Ducks and the Xinjiang Guanghui met again yesterday in what proved to be a classic match, with the Beijing Ducks recording a resounding 96-88 victory capped off with a ferocious dunk by tournament MVP Randolph Morris.
On Friday, the Beijing Ducks had a chance to win the CBA championship on their home court; the Xinjiang Flying Tigers knew that if they lost this game their season and goal of winning a title would vanish. The two teams played a very intense game, but Xinjiang won the game 83-80 on Lester Hudson’s late three-point shot, which gave the visitors another chance at a championship.
On Sunday, the Beijing Ducks soared to the championship game defeating the Xinjiang Flying Tigers 98-88 and winning their second CBA championship in the past three years. The Ducks were led to the championship by former NBA player Stephon Marbury and CBA Finals MVP Randolph Morris. Marbury tallied 28 points, six rebounds and five assists in the deciding game. Randolph Morris tallied 30 points and 11 rebounds as well. Morris, through the finals, averaged 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Ducks, while Stephon Marbury averaged 21.8 points this season. Xinjiang, was without star player Muhtar Xirelijiang, who was absent from the game because he made an obscene gesture to the Beijing crowd after Friday’s game. The Flying Tigers also lost forward James Singleton who was injured during the play off run but he was replaced in game six with Reggie Okosa, a Nigerian player who was signed recently from Taiwan. According to CBA rules each team is allowed two foreign born players and because Singleton was not playing, the Flying Tigers were allowed to add another player.
Earlier this month, Stephon Marbury, a former NBA player, led the team to beat eight-time champions Guangdong Hongyuan 110 – 102 in Game 5 of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league semifinals on March 11.
This victory means a lot for the Beijing Ducks lead player Stephon Marbury who joined the CBA in 2009 after leaving the NBA. Nicknamed Starbury, Marbury never become a champion during his NBA time and settled for a disappointing bronze medal for the USA basketball squad in Athens. His basketball career started with the Minnesota Timberwolves and later he played for the New Jersey Nets, the Phoenix Suns, the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics, but real fame never came until he signed the contract with the Chinese Basketball Association in 2009, which embodied a remarkable turnaround for 37-year-old Marbury.
After playing in different Chinese basketball teams including Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons and Foshan Dralions, glory finally found him in 2012 with the Beijing Ducks when he became a champion for the first time since high school. His “Chinese dream” coming true.
In that year he defeated Guangdong Hongyuan bringing the Ducks their first-ever CBA championship, making him a Chinese basketball hero and bringing a big title to his name, big enough to be granted a massive bronze statue, which was built in his honor at the request of millions of his fans. In China, he is known as 马布里 or affectionately 老马 (Old Horse) for short.
His latest championship didn’t come easily by any stretch of the imagination. He seriously injured his knee early in the season during a match in Jiangsu last November and had to be benched for six weeks. When he returned to regular season play, he was noticeably hobbled by the injury with a large knee brace present on his left knee for the rest of the season. Nevertheless, he toughed it out and managed to improve his scoring and contribution to the team once the playoffs started.
Considering the disappointing previous season, the debilitating injury this season, and the miraculous wins over higher ranked teams, it’s no wonder he was very emotional upon his victory last night in Urumqi.
Master image courtesy of Weibo user AbsintheLeo.