Sichuan Blue Whale upset Shandong Heroes 79-68(updated)

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QINGDAO, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Outscoring their opponents 42-34 in rebounds, 23-11 in assists, 10-5 in three-pointers, and with three players scoring over 10 points, the Sichuan Blue Whale pulled off a comprehensive victory over the Shandong Heroes 79-68 in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) on Saturday.

The loss also extended Shandong's losing streak to three games.

Shandong, sitting 10th on the table, needed a victory to stand out from the bottom of the playoff picture, where teams placed eighth to tenth are clumped together all with 20 wins and 13 losses.

It should have been an easy game for Shandong, as their opponents sat seven places behind them in the standings before the game. The 17th placed Sichuan, however, gave Shandong a hard time throughout the whole game. At the end of first half, the Heroes had a 39-38 lead, which soon collapsed within a few minutes after the third quarter tipped off. Li Yuanyu, Yuan Tangwen, Jing Hanyi,and Li Keqi took turns to fire in the paint and from downtown, sending Sichuan to a 60-50 lead as the third quarter ended.

The final 10 minutes was Sichuan's showtime. After Yuan Tangwen pocketed two points with a layup with less than two minutes on the clock, the Blue Whale enlarged the advantage to 79-64, the largest gap of the game. Tao Hanlin still strived to score under the basket, but he alone could not rewrite the results for Shandong.

Technically Shandong should have dominated in the paint with its experienced centers, Tao Hanlin and Jia Cheng, but it was Li Yuanyu who was unstoppable in paint touches from the tipoff. The 206cm center led in points (13) and rebounds (9) during the first half, and posted a double-double of 18 points and 17 rebounds from his 48 minutes on the court.

"We have to have a clear picture of our situation after these losses. Our centers are strong just in theory, but showed no dominance in the past four games," said Gong Xiaobin, head coach of Shandong. "We had a good ranking before the season's suspension, but now when we have to run with all domestic players, and it's time to revalue ourselves."

Shandong's failure in the paint was also reflected in rebounds, in which Sichuan led 42-34. Jing Hanyi alone contributed six out of the total 10 offensive rebounds, many of which were grabbed when Shandong was trying to catch up and were turned to points for Sichuan during the second half.

"I'm satisfied with the players' performance, especially in rebounds and ball-movement. Shandong has some tall and strong centers, but we still prevailed in rebounds, which means our players have put themselves all out there," said Zhou Jinli, head coach of Sichuan, adding that he was more than glad to see the team play selflessly, thanks to point guard Yuan Tangwen's ball-distribution.

Sichuan's point guard Yuan Tangwen delivered a game-high 14 assists.

"The coach encouraged us to share the ball, and I just played my way on court," said Yuan.

The two teams play against each other again on Monday in Qingdao. With first-choice point guard Zhang Qingpeng still on an injury layoff, Shandong has to strengthen their defense to make up for its offense, according to Gong. Enditem

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