The Guangdong Southern Tigers captured their second consecutive Chinese Basketball Association title on Saturday evening, defeating the Liaoning Flying Leopards 123-115 in Game 3 of the championship series.
Former NBA player Sonny Weems, a University of Arkansas product, led Guangdong with 39 points in Qingdao, China. Teammate Zhou Peng had 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Xu Jie dished out eight assists.
The Southern Tigers won the franchise’s 10th CBA title. Weems received the finals MVP award.
Guangdong big man Yi Jianlian, the regular-season MVP, left the game after tearing his right Achilles in the second half. He contributed 14 points and eight boards.
The Flying Leopards trimmed their rivals lead to four with two minutes remaining in the game, but the Southern Tigers didn’t relinquish their lead.
“Congratulations to Guangdong for the championship, and also congratulations to my players for making into the finals,” Liaoning acting head coach Alejandro Martinez said. “Now we rest for a couple of weeks and will start to prepare for the next season.”
Path to victory for Guangdong Southern Tigers
The Guangdong Southern Tigers trailed 29-26 entering the second quarter. They pushed the pace in the second quarter and built a 54-47 lead entering the second half.
With a 41-point third period, Guangdong, which had a 44-2 record in the regular season, stretched its advantage to 95-86 entering the final stanza.
“We overcame lots of difficulties in this special and long season, and only those who experienced it can feel how hard it was,” Guangdong head coach Du Feng said.
Weems’ super finals
The 34-year-old Weems, who joined the Guangdong Southern Tigers in August 2018, scored 28, 37, and 39 points in succession in the championship round.
Weems averaged 20.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 1.6 steals in 44 games (23 starts) during the regular season.
Top Liaoning performers
O.J. Mayo paced the Liaoning Flying Leopards with 34 points, while standout guard Guo Ailun poured in 26 points. Han Dejun added 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Liu Zhixuan scored 15 points.
The Guangdong Southern Tigers hammered the Liaoning Flying Leopards 110-88 in Game 1 of the CBA finals on Aug. 11. Two days later, the Flying Leopards evened the series at one game apiece with a 115-113 verdict.