Tigers Knock Out Leopards, Will Hall of Fame Coach Return?

 

Center Zhong Kai and forwards Zhao Jie and Quan Gu on the court with point guard Bobby Brown.

Center Zhong Kai and forwards Zhao Jie and Quan Gu on the court with point guard Bobby Brown, No. 6.

Both of Dongguan’s basketball clubs, the Guangdong Southern Tigers and the Dongguan Leopards opened the 2014-15 CBA Playoffs against each other in a No. 1 versus No. 8 quarter final matchup on Friday, February 6 and completed the series within a week of when it began.

The Dongguan Leopards played as hard as they could while the Guangdong Tigers played as hard as they had to in order to defeat the Leopards 3-1 in the best of five CBA Quarter Finals which ended February 12, 2015.

… implications were made that Goorjian and Leopards ownership don’t see eye to eye …

The Leopards took a 1-0 series lead in a come from behind victory defeating the Tigers 117-116 in game one. Dongguan needed a 31-22 fourth quarter run to overcome an eight-point deficit starting the fourth quarter. Ike Diogu came up big and led the way for Dongguan recording a double-double with 46 points and 13 rebounds while fellow import Bobby Brown added 12 points and 9 assists just missing a double-double of his own while four other Leopards scored in double figures.

Yi Jianlian did his best to try and keep the Tigers in the game recording his own double-double with 27 points and pulling down 15 rebounds. American import, Will Bynum added 30 points while dishing out 9 dimes.

The next three games were all one sided with the Tigers winning all three by an average of 18 points per game and closing out the series. Game two which was played February 8, saw Guangdong assert it’s size advantage and dominate in the paint scoring 70 points close to the basket compared to just 36 for Dongguan.

The Tigers were sending a message about how the rest of the series would be played winning 112-89. Former NBA players, Yi Jianlian and Jeff Adrien along with Chinese Junior Team member Zhu FangYu dominated the glass, combining to pull down 30 of the 43 Tiger rebounds. Yi also led all scorers with 34 points while Adrien added 19 points and Bynum dropped in 15 points respectively.

Ike Diogu posts up for a rebound against Sichuan Blue Whales center Xu Tao.

Ike Diogu posts up for a rebound against Sichuan Blue Whales center Xu Tao.

Leopard imports Bobby Brown and Ike Diogu did their best to keep the Leopards in the game combining for 52 of the 89 Dongguan points. Duo Meng was the only other Leopard scoring in double figure with 10 points, but did little else statistically to help the team.

During game three the Tigers had four players score 18 points or more and three of those same four players pulled down 27 of the teams 42 overall rebounds. Yi led all scorers again with 28 points and added his third double-double of the series in as many games by grabbing 12 boards as the Tigers coasted to a 114-97 and a 2-1 series lead.

Point guard Bobby Brown led the way for the Leopards with 25 points but had a disappointing 9 of the teams 16 turnovers.

The fourth and final game of the series was similar to game two with the Tigers asserting their dominance inside again scoring 80 of their 102 total points in the paint while controlling the glass and out rebounding the Tigers 55-38. The win sealed their quarterfinal series victory and reserved a seat in the semi-finals versus the defending champions Beijing Ducks.

Yi Jianlian led the Tigers again with his fourth double-double of the series draining a team high 26 points and hauling in 17 rebounds. American import and former NBA player Jeff Adrien added a double-double of his own for Guangdong, adding 16 points and grabbing 14 boards, while former Detroit Piston point guard, Will Bynum added 21 points and dished out five assists.

Ike Diogu showed up big again for the Leopards pouring in 28 points, while going 11-12 from the charity stripe and pulling down 14 boards. Bobby Brown added 11 points and five assists while two other Leopards, Duo Meng and Qu AnGu contributed 12 and 10 points respectively.

… it was made clear to me by management that I would not be returning to the Leopards after this season,” said Goorjian.

The early departure for the Leopards leaves a few questions to be answered in the off-season and only time will tell what those answers will be. The biggest of which will be who will replace Australian Basketball Hall of Fame coach Brian Goorjian on the sideline after taking a step down from head coach to the assistant position midway through the season.

Brian Goorjian was inducted into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013 and is among the NBL elite.

Brian Goorjian was inducted into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013 and is among the NBL elite.

Goorjian was in the final year of his second three-year contract with the team, which expired at the end of this season. “I was in the last year of my contract and it was made clear to me by management that I would not be returning to the Leopards after this season,” said Goorjian.

“I was brought in to develop the young Chinese players and the local coaching staff, I did that and now it’s time to move on. I have no hard feelings and I feel good about where we brought the team in my six years in Dongguan,” said Goorjian.

In discussion this season with sources close to the team, implications were made that Goorjian and Leopards ownership don’t see eye to eye on how the team should play, and Goorjian’s use of his players. For instance, the release of import Donte Greene at the end of the 2013-14 season and the signing of former Tigers post player Ike Diogu for this season without consulting Goorjian.

The evaluation of the Chinese post players is currently underway and the outcome will determine if Diogu is brought back for another year or if the team will seek to bring in another import for the 2015-16 season. We know point guard Bobby Brown will be back unless an NBA team picks him up as he will be in the second year of the three-year extension that he signed at the end of the 2013-14 season.

Keep up to date with all the CBA playoff action involving the Guangdong Tigers right here on HEREDG.com.