Chiba Jets breaks B.League record, other defending Asian league champs fight toward finals
ASIA – The temperature is rising, not only because it’s summer but because we’re getting deeper and deeper towards the finals series in league across Asia. It won’t be long before we eventually find out who will be crowned champions of these leagues and who will inch closer at getting a chance at going to the FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2019!
Let’s check in on the action.
Information is updated as of April 16, 2019.
Glad to be here
The Incheon ETLand Elephants swept the Changwon LG Sakers in the Korean Basketball League (KBL) semifinals, advancing to the championship round. Getting to the finals is already an achievement worth celebrating on it’s own for the Elephants as the only KBL club who has never made it to last stage, but they are certainly not going to settle just for an appearance.
Incheon are facing the mighty Ulsan Hyundai Mobis, who were one win away from tying the best regular season record, and have been the biggest title contenders all season long. Ulsan are led by the Foreign MVP and Korean naturalized player, Ra Guna, as well as Local MVP candidate Lee Sae-Sung who has been having a spectacular season.
Ra Guna had his usual dominant line of 30 points and 11 rebounds on 14-21 shooting from the field, while Lee had 15 points and 6 assists shooting 3-6 from downtown in a Game 1 victory. However, Incheon didn’t go away quietly losing by only 98-95 and shot 11-16 from beyond the three-point line.
It was in Game 2 where Incheon would get their payback, clobbering Ulsan 89-70 in a second half rout to tie the series. Charles Rhodes exploded for 31 points and 15 boards while also helping to hold Ra to only 14 points on 6-17 shooting as Incheon broke away in the second half for the win
(Charles Rhodes, Photo Credit: KBL)
The series is now tied at 1-1 heading to Incheon for Game 3 in the Best-of-7 finals series. Incheon will be pumped up as it is their first trip to the finals, but Ulsan are also motivated by not making it to this stage in the past 3 seasons as well.
Over in the Iranian Superleague, the series going on are also in 1-1 semifinals series tie.
Petrochimi took game 1 in their series against Palayesh Naft Abadan, but had to survive a late game rally and ended up with a 75-73 win. The FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2018 winners would not be able to escape defeat in game 2, suffering from poor shooting of only 37 percent which resulted in a 68-58 loss. Abadan’s late season addition, Mike Rostampour, has been solid with 13.5 points and 6.0 rebounds on average in the series as well as star guard Aren Davoudi who had 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists in game 2.
Champions of the FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2019 WABA Qualifiers, Chemidor Tehran, were upset in game 1 by Shahrdari Gorgan despite 36 points from Mohammed Jamshidi. It was a close contest towards the end but a clutch performance by Amir Sedighi (20 points, 5 rebounds) sealed the game for the lower seeded Gorgan.
Game 2 was an entirely different story as Chemidor came together as team to shoot 69 percent from inside the arc for a crushing 92-68 win. Jamshidi was held to 18 points, but 5 other Chemidor players put up double-digit scoring in the victory.
Here come the Beermen
The defending champions, San Miguel Beermen, were forced to a third decisive game in the quarterfinals of the Philippines Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup againt TNT Katropa, but managed to stroll on to the semis to face the number one seed, Phoenix Fuelmasters. The top ranked team of the elimination round has put up a good fight, but the Beermen seem to be clicking at just the right time to get their way in this series.
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After being limited to only nine points in Game 1, can June Mar Fajardo redeem himself and lead the San Miguel Beermen to a commanding 2-0 lead or will the Fuel Masters contain "The Kraken" anew to make it 1-1? . Watch Game 2 of the semifinals series between Phoenix and SMB tonight at 7:00 PM LIVE on TV5 or via live stream on www.espn5.com! #PBAonESPN5 #PBALabanKungLaban
San Miguel easily took game 1 with a 100-88 victory, blasting away 18 triples as Alex Cabagnot recorded 26 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists. The Beermen couldn’t replicate that hot-handed shooting in game 2 but were able to claim a 92-82 win nonetheless with reigining league MVP Junemar Fajardo putting up 19 points and 18 rebounds.
In the other semifinals series matchup, second seed Rain or Shine Elasto Painters have done a good job of beating Magnolia Hotshots in the first two games. Rain or Shine runs a deep rotation with plenty of players available to step up at any given time and in this series, it has been Ed Daquioag who has averaged 14.5 points and 3.0 boards in the wins.
In the absence of Maverick Ahanmisi, @ed_daquioag stepped up to the plate as @bayanngrosoffcl took a 2-0 series lead following a 13-point win over Magnolia in Game 2.#PBAonESPN5 #PBALabanKungLaban pic.twitter.com/H7bArcZcMG— ESPN5 (@Sports5PH) April 14, 2019
However, the Magnolia Hotshots have been able to claw one game their way with an 85-74 win in game 3.
2018 Finals Rematch in the making?
The Alfa Lebanese Basketball League finals matchup last year was an epic clash between Al-Riyadi and Homentemen. Both teams have gotten off to a good start in the semifinals in their path to face each other once again in the last stage.
Al-Riyadi were matched up against the top-seeded Champville in the semifinals and claimed an impressive 83-76 win in game 1, leading from start to finish by shooting 51 percent from the floor. Game 2 was more tighly contested, but Riyadi closed out on an 8-0 run for a narrow 65-63 win.
Star guard Wael Arakji scored the last 7 points of the game 2, continuing his impressive run against Champville. The 24-year-old is averaging 17.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in this semifinal series.
Regular season leading scorer and Asian legend Fadi El-Khatib of Champville has been limited to only 4.0 points per game, shooting a miserable 2-21 from the floor in the back to back losses.
Homentemen had no trouble taking care of a worn down Beirut team who advanced to the semifinals after going all the way to five games against Moutahed. In game 1, Homentemen took control in the second half with Mike Efevberha erupting for 30 points and 8 rebounds.
Both of last season’s finalist now have the advantage in a Best-of-5 semifinal series.
One Tiger Waits in the Finals
In the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), one of the finalist from last season are already confirmed to not be returning this year after Zhejiang Guangsha Lions dropped out to the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the quarterfinals. Xinjiang could potentially knock out the defending champions, Liaoning Flying Leopards, as well as they now command a 3-1 lead in the semifinals series.
(Abudushalamu Abudurexiti, Photo Credit: CBA)
Most Improved Player Abudushalamu Abudurexiti continues to be a force in this playoff run in hopes of getting a second CBA title in 3 seasons and possibly another trip to the FIBA Asia Champions Cup. His line over three games against Liaoning reads an impressive 18.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per contest so far. Guo Ailun of Liaoning has been doing everything to will his team back to the finals were averages of 21.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 6.8 assists but he’s going to either do more or get more help especially with star center Han Dejun still injured.
(Guo Ailun, Photo Credit: CBA)
In the other bracket, the Guangdong Southern Tigers easily swept through the upstart and youthful Shenzhen Leopards in 4 games. Yi Jianlian is determined to get his club back to the promised land and put up monster numbers in these 4 games with 27.0 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.8 steals, and 2.0 blocks in just 32.3 minutes of action per game.
(Yi Jianlian, left, Photo Credit: CBA)
Yi will have plenty time to rest while waiting for the Southern Tigers opponents in the CBA Finals.
Al Shorta not coming up short
FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2016 participants Al Shorta had two close calls but managed to go through a week of the Iraqi Basketball Super League Final 4 round unscathed. They trailed for nearly the entire game against Naft Al Janoob, before a 5-point burst from Hassan Abdullah (17 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists) successfully secured the Al Shorta the lead for good in the 86-83 win.
(Hassan Abdullah, Photo Credit: Iraq Basketball Association)
The tables were turned a few days later, as Al Shorta led nearly the entire game against Al Karkh. Ahmed Altamimi even gave Karkh a 2-point lead with less than 30 seconds on the clock, but Hasan Saymarlee (22 points, 4 triples) provided the dagger for Shorta with a clutch triple and sealed an 85-84 win.
Naft Baghad also won both of their games in the week against Al-Karkh and Al-Janoob in relatively easier fashion with double-digit wins in both games. Ali Ismael continues to be the star of the competition with another week of big numbers, putting up averages of 23.5 points and 15.0 rebounds.
(Ali Ismael, left, Photo Credit: Iraq Basketball Association)
Chiba Jets fly to B.League history
The Chiba Jets have been on a tear this entire season with their eyes set on revenge after their finals loss the prior year. Now they have set B.League history by winning their 50th game in the regular season, beating out the previous high set by the Kawasaki Brave Thunders in 2016-2017 of 49. It was even more satisfying for the Jets as their historic win also clinched the Eastern region title, the number one seed in the playoffs, and was against region rivals and defending champs, Alvark Tokyo. Jet’s superstar and MVP candidate Yuki Togashi was sure to put on a show with a season-high 28 points against Alvark.
(Yuki Togashi, Photo Credit: B.League)
The Jets are not sure who they will face in the B.League championship quarterfinals as the two final spot to the post-season are still up for grabs.
One of those spots will be for the second best record in the Western Region, between the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins (31-27) and Kyoto Hannaryz (30-28). Both teams suffered tough losses to the Shiga Lake Stars over the week and were able to add only one win to their total out of three games.
Among the two squads, the team that misses out on the second place auto-bid to the B.League championship will have to put their record to the test for the final wildcard spot against teams that will finish outside of the top two spots in their respective regions. Alvark Tokyo (42-16, Eastern Region) clinched the first wildcard spot a while back and the final quota will be between SeaHorses Mikawa (31-27), Toyama Grouses (30-28), or either Nagoyo/Kyoto.
Mikawa have made a strong push with three straight wins this past week while the other teams sputtered. However, their final two games of the season are the toughest among the 4 teams as they will be up against Kawasaki (38-20) who will be fighting for a better seed in the playoffs as well.
There’s only two games left in the regular season of the B.League but there will be plenty to settle on the court in those final contests.
Award season begins in SBL
The Super Basketball League (SBL) season might already be over for the Bank of Taiwan team, but their prized youngster Chen Yu-Jui will be getting two awards to treasure this year: Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year. This is the first time ever that the awards have been claimed by the one player in the same year. Chen averaged 9.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.3 steals this season.
"I am very happy to win two awards in my first year," Chen said, as per TSNA. "I just tell myself to not overthink. I can enjoy myself when I am on the court. I can’t worry too much if I make mistakes. I hope to help Bank of Taiwan make the playoffs soon."
Another award handed out was to Yu Huan-Ya of Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor for being the Most Improved Player of the year. He improved his numbers from 6.6 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists as a role player of the bench to being the main man averaging 10.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game this season.
"I am very happy, but I don't want to be complacent. I set goals for myself every year. I set three goals this year. The first was three-point shooting to reached at 40 percent or more." Yu said, as per TSNA. This year he shot 41.7 percent from beyond the arc. "The other two goals are to be selected as the best five players of the year and to help keep Kinmen in the top 4. If I don't get to be become the best five players it may be a pity, but there is still a chance to continue to work towards this direction in the future."
After claiming the Most Improved Player award twice, Yu shares his thoughts on the prospects of winning the award for a third time.
"Of course I hope I can make progress again. If I can be written into the history, it is not bad."
However, Yu was not able to help Kinmen advance to the semifinals as targeted after suffering a 2-0 sweep to the Yulon Luxgen Dinos. Floor general Han Lin Wei continues his spectacular season and averaged 11.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 6.5 assists in the quarterfinals win.
Defending champions Pauian Archiland dropped one game to the Daxin Tigers, but still made it through to the semifinals in a dominant 102-81 win in game 3. Yao Shi Jin averaged only 6.2 points on 36.1 percent shooting from long range in the regular season but has stepped up in the post season to record 16.7 points on 50 percent shooting from deep in this series.