The Chinese Basketball Association opened its 2020-21 season on Saturday, and the Zhejiang Golden Bulls routed the reigning champion Guangdong Southern Tigers 138-113.
Wu Qian paced the Golden Bulls with 39 points and 14 assists. Teammates Liu Zeyi and Cheng Shuaipeng scored 25 points apiece. Liu had a game-high 13 rebounds to complete the double-double in Zhejiang Province.
Guangdong trailed 40-21 entering the second quarter.
Southern Tigers star Yi Jianlian, the Chinese Basketball Association MVP last season, is sidelined with a ruptured Achilles tendon. He suffered the injury in Game 3 of the CBA finals on Aug. 15. It was the title-clinching game, with Guangdong defeating the Liaoning Flying Leopards 123-115.
Season-opening loss for Southern Tigers
Without Yi on the floor, Guandong point guard Zhao Rui carried the offense, finishing with a team-best 20 points in the Chinese Basketball Association opener. Hu Mingxuan added 19 points, Marshon Brooks chipped in with 15 and Zhou Peng had 14. Ren Junfui finished with 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
The new Chinese Basketball Association season
The Chinese Basketball Association is in its 26th season. The league’s 20 teams are scheduled to play a 56-game season through early May.
Last season, Guangdong went 44-2 in the regular season before capturing the title.
Therefore, the powerhouse team earned special recognition on opening night. Basketball legend Yao Ming, the Chinese Basketball Association chairman, presented championship rings to Guangdong Southern Tigers players.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CBA is planning to play all of its games at two venues in Zhuji, Zhejiang.
However, the league may opt to adopt a conventional schedule if the situation is deemed safe to do so.
Yao Ming’s comments
At a tipoff event before the season-opening last week, Yao addressed the issue of last summer’s CBA relaunch.
“Thanks to the collective efforts that made last season’s restart possible in a challenging time, we are able to proceed with the opening of our 26th season to continue bringing the excitement of the game to the fans,” Yao told reporters on Oct. 12.
“Still, we need to stay vigilant by continuing to play inside the bubble to guarantee the health and safety of everybody involved. We are confident though of reopening stadiums to fans when possible.”