The reigning champion Guangdong Southern Tigers are headed back to the Chinese Basketball Association finals.
With an 88-85 win over the Beijing Ducks in Game 3 of their best-of-three semifinal series on Saturday in Qingdao, China, Guangdong secured a showdown with the Liaoning Flying Leopards, who captured the title in 2018. The Flying Leopards went 32-14 in the regular season, which was interrupted for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It will be the Guangdong Southern Tigers’ 15th appearance in the CBA finals. The best-of-three championship round tips off on Tuesday. Game 2 is set for Thursday and Game 3 on Aug. 15.
Guangdong collected its 13th Chinese Basketball Association regular-season title and reached the playoffs for the 25th straight year. The defending champs went 44-2 in the regular season.
Top performers for Guangdong Southern Tigers
In the series decider, which was deadlocked at 37-all at halftime, Yi Jianlian, one of the all-time best players from Asia and Oceania, provided 18 points and 14 rebounds, with captain Zhou Peng and Sonny Weems scoring 17 points apiece. Wang Xinkai drained 4 of 6 3s in a 14-point outing.
“Yi, who just came back from injury, helped the team a lot tonight, not only in the technique and tactics, but also in setting an example to the young players,” Guangdong Southern Tigers coach Du Feng said.
Solid in defeat
For Beijing, Ekpe Udoh poured in 24 points and pulled down 21 rebounds. Former NBA player Jeremy Lin added 17 points and dished out five assists and Zhai Xiaochuan chipped in with 15 points.
The Guangdong Southern Tigers used a 9-0 spurt in the third quarter to pull ahead.
“We did our best, but the defending champions are indeed more powerful than us. We will enjoy our short vacation and come back next year,” said Xie Libin, Beijing’s acting head coach.