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September 2019
01/04/2019
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Entertainment peaks at PBA All-Star Weekend while playoffs intensify in CBA, KBL

ASIA - While most of the leagues around Asia are deeply emerged in their post-season stages, the Philippines Basketball Association (PBA) was hosting a lively and entertaining All-Star Weekend. Do you know what that means?

That means plenty of action to recap and enjoy this week from leagues all over Asia! Let’s dig right in.

Information updated as of March 31, 2019.

Fun for everyone at the PBA All-Star Weekend

On Sunday, March 31, the province of Pangasinan hosted the highest scoring PBA All-Star Game ever as the North squad beat the South, 185-170.

 The North featured a starting lineup of:

LA Tenorio (Barangay Ginebra)
Paul Lee (Magnolia Hotshots)
Calvin Abueva (Phoenix Fuelmasters)
Japeth Aguilar (Barangay Ginebra)
and Marcio Lassiter (San Miguel Beermen)

coached by league-leading Phoenix Fuelmaster’s Louie Alas. The bench was filled out with:

Jason Perkins (Phoenix Fuelmasters)
Stanley Pringle (North Port Batang Pier)
Chris Banchero (Alaska Aces)
Mark Caguioa (Barangay Ginebra)
Arwind Santos (San Miguel Beermen)
Alex Cabagnot (San Miguel Beermen)
Gabe Norwood (Rain or Shine Elasto Painters)
Jayson Castro (TNT Katropa)
And Troy Rosario (TNT Katropa)

On the other side, the South trotted out a starting five of:

June Mar Fajardo (San Miguel Beermen)
Greg Slaughter (Banaragay Ginebra)
James Yap (Rain or Shine Elasto Painters)
Mark Barroca (Magnolia Hotshots)
and Scottie Thompson (Barangay Ginebra)

with Caloy Garcia of Rain or Shine as the head coach of the team. The bench included:

Terrence Romeo (San Miguel Beermen)
Baser Amer (Meralco Bolts)
Asi Taulava (NLEX Road Warriors)
RR Pogoy (TNT Katropa)
Chris Ross (San Miguel Beermen)
PJ Simon (Magnolia Hotshots)
Jio Jalalon (Magnolia Hotshots)
JP Erram (NLEX Road Warriors)
And Mac Belo (Blackwater Elite).

Japeth Aguilar and Arwind Santos were crowned Kings of the North as the two players claimed co-MVP honors. Santos delighted the fans with a flurry of highlight dunks and a line of 32 points and 8 rebounds. Aguilar boasted some mad hops himself by leapfrogging over (a voluntary) Fajardo which easily became the highlight of the weekend festivities.

 Earlier in the weekend, first overall draft pick CJ Perez (Columbian Dyip) was named the MVP of the NXTGEN Rookies and Sophomores vs. Juniors Game featuring some of the brightest young talents in the league. Perez has been as good as advertised in his first PBA season, continuing to do so in this All-Star event by scoring 32 points on 6-12 shooting from long range.

 The game itself ended in exciting fashion when a tip-in by rookie Javee Mocon gave the Rookies and Sophomore a 141-140 win over the Juniors.

 In other events; Ray Guevara (Phoenix Fuelmasters) secured his 5th Slam Dunk contest title while PJ Simon (Magnolia Hotshots) shot his way to his first three-point contest win.

 Teams will get right back into action for the last two games of the elimination round on April with NLEX Road Warriors vs Magnolia Hotshots and North Port Batang Pier vs Barangay Ginebra.

Playoffs under way in Lebanon

All of the higher seeds claimed wins from game 1 of their respective playoff series in the Alfa Lebanese Basketball League.

Top-ranked Champville was dominant in a 49-point blowout over Atlas with Fadi El-Khatib pouring in 28 points and 12 rebounds. Both of last season’s finalists, Homentemen and Al-Riyadi, claimed wins in their first games as well.

 

Iraq’s top two continues to roll

Al Shorta and Naft Baghad finished stage one of the Iraqi Basketball Super League as the top two teams with identical 18-2 records and they have knocked off two straight wins over Al Karkh and Naft Al-Janoob in the playoffs to maintain their spots.

(Mohammed Al-Khafaji)

Mohammed Al-Khadaji has been Al Shorta’s star as expected with 16.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in the first two games. Naft Baghdad is also led by a high-flyer in Ali Hameed who is swatting away 4.0 blocked shots per game while also putting up 6.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest.

Naft Baghdad and Al-Shorta will play each other on April 3 to get an upper edge in this playoff phase.

The Train to Busan has been brutal

The Changwon LG Sakers were 3rd place in the regular season standings and started the week by commanding a 2-0 lead in a best-of-three series over Busan KT Supersonic, but it was in that game where the tables have turned.

Game 1 hero Kim Sirae suffered an injury late in the the second game of the series and LG hasn’t been able to recover. After the series went to Busan for Games 3 and 4, the series in now tied with KT Supersonic defending homecourt for both games. Kim has been having a superb season, his 5th with LG Sakers, averaging 10.8 points and 4.1 assists. Without him in these past two playoff games against KT Supersonic, the Sakers have lost by an average of 18.0 points. Most Improved Player of the Year, Yang Hong-Seok of KT Supersonic, has upgraded his stats even further from the regular season and is now averaging 15.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in the playoffs.

 

The deciding Game 5 will be played on Monday, April 1, to advance the winning team into the Semi-finals to face Incheon ET Elephants.

On the other side of the bracket, Jeonju KCC Egis managed to take down Goyang Orions 3-1 led by outstanding performances by Lee-Junghyun. The recently crowned MVP averaged 20.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.0 assists throughout the series, highlighted by a 30-point outing in the clinching Game 4 victory.

 

KCC Egis will play their first Semi-finals game against regular season champions, Ulsan Hyundai Mobis, on April 3.

Star power in full force at CBA Playoffs

The quarter-finals of the CBA has been lit!

The matchup between the Fujian Sturgeons and the Liaoning Flying Leopards pitted MVP candidate Guo Ailun against MVP winner Wang Zhelin against each other and the results are just as grand as you would imagine.

Just in their very first game, Guo scored a career-high 46 points which was just enough to beat out Wang’s 31 points and 23 rebounds in double-overtime. Liaoning completed the 3-game sweep, but the battle of the stars between Guo (33.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists per game) and Wang (28.0 points, 15.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocks per game) was been glorious.

(Wang Zhelin defending shot by Guo Ailun)

Aside from Liaoning, Guangdong also swept their opponents with three straight crushing wins over Jiangsu Kendia. The regular season champs are averaging 137.7 points per game in the series and winning by an average margin of 32.7 points per game. Brutal.

The Shenzhen Leopards and Zhejiang Guangsha Lions both found themselves down 2-0 to start their series against the Beijing Ducks and the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, respectively, but have been able to claw one game back on the brink of elimination.

Shenzhen had the league’s second best offense in the regular season with 113.3 points per game, but was held to only 92.0 points on average by the Dunks in their first two playoff losses. It was only in their 3rd game when the Leopards were able to get back into shape by returning Dwight Buycks and scored 116 points in the win.

Xinjiang rode a red-hot Abudushalamu Abudurexiti (27.0 points, 8.7 rebounds) to two straight wins over Guangsha, but a heroic two-game stretch by Lin Chih-Chieh has kept the Guangsha Lions alive. In his past two game, Lin has scored 46 points on 11 threes in only 16 attempts. “The Beast” has been tamed a bit this season, but he’s coming alive at the perfect time for his team.

 

One more spot in the B.League Championship gone

Niigata Albirex won back-to-back matches against San-En Neo Phoenix to clinch a top-two spot in the Central division and a ticket to the B.League Championship. This totals to half of the total 8 playoff spots that are already safely secured. The pressure continues to pile on SeaHorses Mikawa, Nagoya Diamond Dolphins, and Toyama Grouses, all of which are tied up with records of 27-25 in hopes of getting the final wildcard spot.

Mikawa did their job over the past week to stay in the race with two crucial victories over Toyama Grouses to tie things up. Much of the credit has to go to star scorer Kosuke Kanamaru who averaged 25.5 points in both wins and secured his 300th B.League three-pointer in the process. If Kanamaru can maintain his pace as one of the B.League best scorers (18.8 points per game on 43.4 percent three-point shooting), Mikawa should be able to make it through to the B.League Championship when the regular season comes to a close.

 

There was also a clash among the two top teams, Chiba Jets (44-8) and Link Tochigi Brex (42-10), over the weekend as well. Brex are welcoming back veteran Yuta Tabuse into the rotation after nearly 5 minutes of absence and the 2016-2017 B.League champions were able to beat the Chiba Jets on Sunday, March 31. The loss snapped the Jets’ 11-game winning streak.

Fubon bravely rises to the top

It’s been a while, but the Fubon Braves (23-11) have finally been able to fight their way up to the top of the standings with 2 more wins over this past week in the Chinese-Taipei Super Basketball League (SBL).

 

The couple of Ws extended the Braves’ win streak to 9, with one of them being an important 76-73 win over Taiwan Beer (21-13). This puts the Braves in prime position to clinch the top seed in the playoffs with a game against the lowly Bank of Taiwan (8-27) on April 5.