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Liu capped birthday with superlative performance, Arenas shines

(Shanghai Daily)

09:30, January 16, 2013

(File Photo)

The crowd at Shanghai's Yuanshen Sports Center roared as birthday boy and the Shanghai Sharks captain Liu Wei capped his 33rd birthday with a superlative performance for a 113-102 win over the Shanxi Brave Dragons.

The Shanghai skipper enjoyed the cheers of the crowd at the end of the game as the arena echoed with shouts of "MVP".

Liu had a team-high 37 points and 5 assists who along with Americans, Gilbert Arenas and D.J. White, contributed a total of 88 points.

Shanxi's Charles Gaines had a game-high 39 points and 15 rebounds but still ended on the losing side.

"I'm glad we are moving on the right track," Liu said in the locker room after blowing the candles on the birthday cake. "I asked them to buy the smallest cake," said Liu.

"As a senior player in the team, I should set a good example for the young ones," said Liu, who added he'd like to keep the birthday wish a secret till the day he achieves it.

The Sharks are now 7-15 and are still in the 16th place in the 17-team league.

Shanxi, which lost the last three games, dropped to sixth from third place. The Guangdong Southern Tigers, with their ninth straight win last night over the Dongguan Leopards, 107-97, sit on the top of the CBA table.

The rest of this round will be held tonight.

Clear in mind, the Sharks are finding their lost confidence back. "We have too many debts," said interim coach Wang Qun, referring to the previous losses. "But the team is now beginning to cause troubles for others."

"We will keep up the fight," said Liu. "Giving up is not an option for us."

It was also the first time this season that Sharks' American duo, Arenas and White, were healthy on the court. The team showed their confidence and led the game right from the start.

Led by Gaines, with a 69.2 percent shooting rate, the Brave Dragons had narrowed the gap to the shortest of three points but failed to go further.

"We played good tonight and it was also the first time that we assembled full strength," White, with 23 points and 12 rebounds, said. "There are 10 games left this season and we want to win them all."

Arenas scored 28 points and 13 rebounds. His three-pointer far away from the three-point line in the fourth quarter of the match reminded the city that he was the former All-Star point guard in the NBA.

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