Stephon Marbury could be in line for a second statue in Beijing. Having missed most of the season through injury, he has inspired the Beijing Ducks in the CBA playoffs, leading them into a finals showdown against the Xinjiang Flying Tigers after a 3-2 series win against the Guangdong Southern Tigers.
Praise from Beijing Cream:
“The professional basketball team in Beijing is called the Ducks, but I don’t see why. It should be the Beijing Stephon Marburies.”
and from Basketball Buddha:
“Big time players make big time plays in big time games and in China, Stephon Marbury is ‘big time’”
Note to US-based readers: this is not the same Stephon Marbury you remember. To put this result in context, Guangdong have appeared in the last 11 finals series, winning eight championships.
In tennis, a rematch of the Australian Open final saw Li Na beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Li is now 6-0 against the Slovak, but this match took longer than two and half hours. The top seed from China now faces Flavia Pennetta in the semis. Meanwhile, the number 1 Chinese/Taiwanese duo of Peng Shuai and Hsieh Su-wei have yet to drop a set in the women’s doubles and play the wildcard pairing of Kuznetsova and Stosur in the semifinals.
In the Paralympics, China has 794 medals at the Summer Games, and zero at the Winter Games. But that could be about to change: the wheelchair curling team is through to the medal round and will have two chances on Saturday to win their country’s first ever Winter Paralympic medal. The semifinal game against Canada starts at 1330 Beijing time, with the bronze/gold medal games starting at 1930.
The world’s best divers are in Beijing for the first leg of this year’s Diving World Series. On Day 1, China took three of four synchro titles up for grabs, with Russia edging out China in the men’s 3m event. Saturday sees the solo springboard competitions for both men and women, with China having won a combined 47 out of 54 times in this event in the World Series.
In snooker, Hong Kong’s Marco Fu is carrying Chinese hopes in the Haikou World Open, one of five ranking tournaments to be held in China this season. Fu faces Mark Selby in one semifinal, while in the other one Mark Allen will play Shuan Murphy, who knocked out world number 3 Ding Junhui in the third round.
And – making its debut in the China Sports Insider pages – in Aussie Rules Football, China Southern Airlines has become the first Chinese company to sponsor a AFL team, signing a second-tier partnership deal with Melbourne FC. Negotiations have reportedly been ongoing since 2010 when the Demons (that’s Melbourne) played Brisbane in the Shanghai Showdown as part of the 2010 World Expo. This is how they announced the news (seriously):