Liaoning beats Xinjiang to lead 1-0 in 2023-24 CBA finals

  • World
  • Thursday, 16 May 2024

SHENYANG, May 15 (Xinhua) -- The Liaoning Flying Leopards breezed past the Xinjiang Flying Tigers 121-112 on Wednesday to open the 2023-2024 Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league final series with a bang.

Three Liaoning players scored more than 20 points, with forward Fu Hao leading with 29 points. Guard Kyle Fogg and center Han Dejun had 25 and 23 points respectively.

Liaoning, which is seeking its fourth CBA title, now leads 1-0 in the best-of-seven series.

Despite its superior record of league titles, Liaoning was the underdog in the two teams' previous meetings. They faced each other 71 times in the league's 29-year history, and Xinjiang won 43 of them. As for the playoff stages, Xinjiang also has a better record with 14 victories out of 21 games.

Both teams were without key players in Wednesday's Game 1. Xinjiang guard Zhao Rui was injured in the semifinals against the Zhejiang Golden Bulls, while Liaoning star guard Guo Ailun missed almost the entire season due to leg injury.

Liaoning entered the game fully prepared as its shooters hit five out of eight shooting attempts beyond the arc in the first quarter. Zhang Zhenlin and Zhao Jiwei each made two.

"The CBA finals experience really helps," said Liaoning head coach Yang Ming. "We won the first quarter, but lost the following three quarters, so we have to get ready for more challenges in Game 2."

Liaoning ended the first quarter at 34-18 and extended the gap to 17 points with less than four minutes left in the first half.

Xinjiang's Qi Lin suffered fourth foul in the second quarter, which disrupted the rhythm of Xinjiang's offense. For the rest of the second period, Dominique Jones took over the task to score for Xinjiang. His 14 points pulled Xinjiang back into the game and cut the deficit to 13 points by halftime.

The third quarter saw a tougher Xinjiang team. They made full use of fast break chances to get within nine points, only to see Fogg and Han bury several key shots to enlarge the advantage to double digits again.

"Fogg and Han showed their efficiency on the offensive side, so we were able to survive the crisis," Yang said.

Qi was fouled out in the final quarter, which dampened Xinjiang's hopes of a counterattack.

"We didn't play good enough defense in the opening phase, and the 16-point deficit is too hard for us to deal with," said Qiu Biao, head coach of Xinjiang.

"Our shooters struggled on the three point line, but I believe they will find their rhythm in Game 2."

Lindell Wigginton had 19 points for Xinjiang. Jones added 18.

Game 2 will take place on Friday on the same court.

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