Sharks move to a new 'home court' as they gear up for CBA season
The reorganized Shanghai Sharks are preparing for the new season, which begins this weekend, with a goal of finishing in the top eight.
The Sharks have relocated their home field from Pudong's Oriental Sports Center to the renovated Shanghai Gymnasium in Xuhui District.
This year, Liu Peng, assistant coach of the Chinese national team, is serving as the club's acting head coach. Liu, the former coach of the Shanghai junior basketball team, has recruited a number of young players, including American point guard Yogi Ferrell and power forward Noah Vonleh.
"We have a young squad. Thirteen of the 18 prominent players were born after 2000," Liu said. "I hope the senior players will help and lead the younger ones in a difficult but hopeful season."
Last season was a season to forget for the Sharks. In June, the Chinese Basketball Association fined the Sharks and Jiangsu Dragons each 5 million yuan (US$775,049) and suspended both teams for the remainder of the 2022–23 season for playing "in a negative way" in two and three of their playoff series.
The Sharks' head coach, Li Chunjiang, was banned for five years, while his counterpart on the Jiangsu side, Li Nan, was banned for three years.
The heavy penalties were imposed after the association's Discipline and Ethics Committee found both teams didn't give their best efforts to win the two games. CBA President Yao Ming, a former Sharks player, also expressed his disappointment over the incident.
Acting head coach Liu said that the immediate goal for the new season is to reach the top eight and the playoffs.
"The competition has recovered (after the pandemic). We will have a difficult start as our first two games are away," he said.
The Sharks will face Zhejiang on Sunday and Jiangsu on October 25 on the road. Their first home game will be against Qingdao on October 28.
"In training, we mainly focus on tactical run-ins and the cooperation of foreign players," Liu said. "Newcomer Ferrell suits himself into the team fine, while Vonleh is an old acquaintance."
Center Wang Zhelin also showed his determination for the coming season.
"I intentionally lost weight this summer to prevent injuries and improve my form. First, let's make the postseason," said Wang.