SHANGHAI Sharks failed to secure a victory in their first home game of the nascent Chinese Basketball Association season when it lost 78-89 to Shandong Gold at Pudong Yuanshen Stadium last night.
With Gilbert Arenas again out with a thigh injury sustained in the opening game of the season, the Sharks lacked spark and have now lost all three games this season. In contrast, Shandong is enjoying a 3-0 start.
Shandong's American player Pooh Jeter scored a game-high 33 points, including seven three-pointers.
After trailing by nearly 15 points at one stage, the home team managed to close the gap with a good run late in the second quarter and went into the break level at 42-42.
Former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming was present on court during the half-time ceremony to retire his old teammate Zhang Wenqi's No. 6 jersey.
Zhang, a former Shanghai Sharks captain who helped the team win its only CBA championship title 10 years ago along with Yao, saw his jersey hanging on the ramparts of the stadium alongside Yao's jersey. Zhang, 40, played for the Shanghai team from 1993 to 2008.
"It's an exciting moment to stand here with my former teammates and coach," Zhang said, overcome with emotion.
But the emotional moment did not spur the Sharks after the break as they continued to lag behind their rivals due to poor shooting and several turnovers. It was a display that cried out for the return of Arenas, a former Washington Wizards star and a close-season signing.
DJ White, Shanghai's only American player on court, contributed 21 points while captain Liu Wei added 15.
The Sharks will meet Qingdao Doublestar, led by another former NBA star Tracy McGrady, in Shanghai tomorrow. Like Shanghai, Qingdao is also winless after losing to 99-101 to the Bayi Rockets yesterday. T-Mac had 13 points and three assists.
Elsewhere, Dongguan edged Zhejiang 113-110.