The Beijing Fly Dragons were able to edge KK Split of Croatia, 80-73, to take home the 2017 Seri Mutiara Cup basketball invitational championship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
More commonly referred to as the “other Beijing team,” the Fly Dragons came into the tournament looking to improve their traditionally underperforming team before they begin a new season of the Chinese Basketball League (CBA) in October.
With a new core of imports in tow, Beikong looked a lot better than they have ever been since joining the CBA as an expansion team in 2014.
The most prominent name among them was former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury, who was unfairly counted out during his final tumultuous seasons in the big league before eventually finding much success in the Far East, winning three championships with the Beijing Ducks.
It was a surprise as to how the Ducks elected not to resign him to another year in which he had intended it to be his swan song in the city that has adopted him to be their own. What wasn’t as surprising was that the neighboring Fly Dragons readily made the move to sign Beijing’s most beloved player, allowing him to remain and play in the Chinese capital while also giving the team a sudden surge in popularity and fan interest.
Looking serious to compete this year, Beikong brought two other standout imports to this tournament who are expected to remain with them throughout the CBA season. Owing to their woeful record the previous season, they were able to sign an extra Asian import, Jordanian rebounding beast Zaid Abbas who put in 17 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists in the Final yesterday. Long-time CBA import Shavlik Randolph chipped in big with 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
While numbers of nine points, eight rebounds, and six dimes are pretty underwhelming for Stephon Marbury’s standard, he was excellent in captaining the ship down the stretch to lead the Chinese team over the tough Croatians.
“The game was intense tonight. Never have I played a friendly game so competitive. It’s for sure preparing me for the season. Good tournament,” Marbury said in a tweet prior to the Final game among the other good things said about the competition at the Seri Mutiara Cup. The tournament is already seeing a steady improvement, both in level of play and fan interest in Malaysia and around the region. Participating club teams see this tournament as a good primer to their mother leagues that usually start in the last quarter of the year.
Even though he wasn’t exactly the best player on the floor, the Finals MVP was awarded to Taiwanese hot-shot Yang Chin-min, whose 21 points also helped the Fly Dragons bring home the Seri Mutiara hardware back to China.
If Beikong actually exceed expectations in the CBA this season, maybe Starbury can reconsider staying instead of going back to America for that one last dance?