The underdog Beijing Ducks, lead by former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury, are up two games to one over the heavily-favored Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association semi-finals, and can clinch the five-game series at home with a victory tomorrow night.

Beijing quickly went up in the first two games 114-108 and 103-96, but the Tigers struck back last night, walking away with a 110-99 victory.

Honestly, I have never seen such physically intense basketball games on Chinese soil. The bouts so far remind me of old school basketball when the sport was more about muscles, tackles, defense, and “getting nasty” rather than jump shots, fadeaways, and alley-oops  the bad boys of Detroit Pistons going head-to-head against Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.

Marbury appeared to injure his back in the first game and Will Bynum hurt his leg during the second game, but no one has quit. The front-line Chinese players  former LA Laker Sun Yue for the Ducks, and former New Jersey Net Yi Jianlian for the Tigers  guard the paint in the manner of Charles Barkley: they'll block you or hit you, but they won't let you dunk.

The matchups were so intense that I wonder if they remind Marbury of the summer nights at “the Garden” on Coney Island, where he grew up playing streetball against the local best, where “if you have a game, you can keep playing until the final contest ends, maybe around 3am.”

The critical fourth game of the five-game series will be played in Beijing at the MasterCard Center tomorrow at 7.30pm. The Ducks can clinch the series with a win at home; if they lose they will have to play the win-or-go-home fifth game at Guangdong.

You can watch the games on TV at CCTV Sports and Beijing TV, or online at LeTV and PPTV.

Tickets for the Ducks' home games can be purchased online at ticket outlets such as Maipiaotong and Jixiangpiao (we recommend the former for ease of use and reliability), with prices ranging from RMB 80 to RMB 3,000. The game is likely be a sell out, and it might be hard to get tickets from scalpers outside the stadium without paying premium prices.

Whoever wins the Beijing-Guangdong series goes on to face the winner of the other playoff matchup, which features the Liaoning Hunters vs the Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles. Liaoning leads the series two games to none, with the third game tonight at Liaoning. CCTV Sports, LeTV, and PPTV will broadcast the game at 7.30pm.  

Meanwhile, it's not just the boys of Beijing that are in the post-season: the Beijing Greatwall, the city's professional women’s team, is now in the WCBA finals against the reigning champions the Shanxi Flame. Beijing is led by Brittney Griner, the 2014 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year who survived a stabbing attempt in China last September, while Shanxi is led by 2014 WNBA MVP Maya Moore. The best-of-five series are rematches of last year’s finals in which Shanxi beat Beijing 3-1. They are currently tied 1-1 with Game 3 on tap at Shanxi’s home court tomorrow as well.

We hope the power of the Sheep backs Beijing on March 3 so our two hometown teams can bring two victories one at the CBA semifinals and another at the WCBA finals.

Image: Osports/Sina.com


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