The CBA Playoffs are moving into high gear tonight, with the beginning of the bitterly contested Quarterfinals round.
Shenzhen’s Leopards, hot on the heels of dealing a narrow defeat to neighboring rivals the Guangzhou Long-Lions last week, will be playing host to Zhejiang’s Guangsha Lions, marking the start of a three-game series that will determine which team will advance to the next round. It’s likely to be an uphill battle for the Shenzhen squad, who form the lowest seeded team still standing in the tournament, while Zhejiang’s side are the highest ranked.
Meanwhile, in Nanjing, the local Jiangsu Dragons will begin their playoff hopes with a matchup against the Shandong Golden Stars. Both games will kick off at 7.35pm.
Ballers up north will get their piece of the Quarterfinals action tomorrow, starting with the Beijing Ducks hosting challengers Liaoning Flying Leopards at the Cadillac Arena.
Also tomorrow, Dongguan’s powerhouse and eight-time CBA champions Guangdong Southern Tigers will face off against current reigning champs Xinjiang Flying Tigers – the western upstarts who snatched the title from the jaws of the Southern Tigers in last year’s dramatic CBA Final showdown. (In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, there is a heavy feline naming bias in Chinese basketball, with seven out of 20 teams choosing some variety of big cat for a mascot.)
It should be noted that the league is trying something different with this year’s playoffs – the top 10 teams were allowed to advance at the season’s end instead of the usual eight. It hasn’t made much of a difference though: both teams that slipped through on the new policy, Guangzhou’s Long-Lions and Shanghai’s Sharks, were soundly eliminated in their first showings at last week’s pre-elimination round.