Sichuan claim maiden CBA title

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, March 21, 2016
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Hamed Haddadi named MVP of the CBA Finals.

Sichuan beat Liaoning 94-91 in Game 5 of the 2015-2016 CBA Finals on Sunday and won the series 4-1 to become the fifth champions in CBA's 21-year history.

Sichuan recovered from an opening game loss to win four straight matches to claim their first ever championship in their only third CBA season. Only four clubs - Bayi, Guangdong, Shanghai and Beijing - had won the title earlier.

Sichuan, ranked 18th last season, improved from last year's 8-30 to 30-8 in this year's regular season after packing Hamed Haddadi, Mike Harris and Justin Dentmon from Qingdao, who reached last season's semifinals.

The three foreign players combined for 58 points. Harris led Sichuan with 25 points and 15 rebounds while Haddadi finished with a double-double of 22 and 16.

But it was Chinese players who secured the victory in Sunday's game. Wang Ruheng hit four three-pointers, including a crucial one in the fourth quarter right after Liaoning narrowed the gap to three. Zhang Chunjun had 12 points and seven rebounds.

"Three foreign players did help the team a lot during the entire season," said Sichuan head coach Yang Xuezeng. "But they are all team players. We won the championship because of team efforts."

Liaoning, who reached the CBA finals six times without winning one, almost brought the series back to Benxi. They trailed as many as 23 points in the middle of the third quarter but then Lester Hundson hit three straight three-pointers to close the gap to 10 before the final period.

Guo Ailun's layup with 1:17 left put Liaoning just two points behind Sichuan. Liaoning's Liu Zhixuan was fouled on a lay-up but he only managed one free throw. Then Hudson failed to tie the score in the last seconds.

Sichuan started the game well as Haddadi swept the hosts' first eight points. Liaoning had only one point through Guo Ailun in the beginning five minutes. Leading by four after the first quarter, Sichuan outscored Liaoning 28-15 for a 17-point halftime lead.

Liaoning started the second half with a 6-1 run. Sichuan called a timeout and returned with a 11-0 run and led by 23, the biggest margin of the match, before Hudson stood out. Although he finished with a match-high 39, Hudson missed all six three-pointer attempts in the final quarter.

Shavlik Randolph contributed 15 and 12 rebounds. Guo Ailun was Liaoning's only Chinese player who scored double-digits. The national team guard took 17 points, seven rebounds and five steals, but only dished out one assist.

An excited Haddadi kissed the floor and said "Thank you, Chengdu!" to fans in Chinese after the victory.

Sichuan's championship, however, was tainted by a mass brawl on Wednesday. After losing Game 3, a mass brawl broke out between Liaoning players and Sichuan fans. Guo Ailun and his teammates were seen exchanging punches with Sichuan supporters.

Guo and He Tianju's fathers were reportedly confronted by some unruly Sichuan fans at the lobby of Liaoning team hotel, which caused the the fracas.

Sichuan club was fined 150,000 yuan on Friday by the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). Punishments on Liaoning players are expected to be announced after Sichuan police complete their investigation.

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