- Language Tips
Li Gen scores just two points in his debut, but Marbury, Randolph lead win over Shanghai
Li Gen was the only unhappy man in the Beijing Ducks' locker room on Saturday night.
Li, the team's lone offseason signing, found himself in the middle of a media scrum after scoring just two points in 21 minutes in Beijing's 94-78 victory over the Shanghai Sharks in Shougang Gymnasium.
"Big game for the team, but I feel unhappy about my part," Li said while holding his lower back with both hands.
"I am not excusing myself, but my back injury didn't recover as well as I thought."
Li sustained the injury during a preseason game against the Tianjin Gold Lions.
"It remains far from 100 percent healthy and hurts me every time I go for the basket," he said. "It hampered my performance tonight."
The expected duel between two former NBA All-Stars - Beijing's Stephon Marbury and Shanghai's Gilbert Arenas - fizzled quickly when Arenas left the game with a thigh strain in the first quarter.
That means Li's poor night drew all the attention instead.
Drafted by the Sharks in 2008, Li soon built a name for himself by displaying exceptional power for a shooting guard. Last season, he scored 31 points while representing the Qingdao Eagles in the All-Star Game and was named the game's MVP.
Li scored 41 points in a victory over Beijing last season and impressed the Ducks' management, which expects him to ease the pressure on Marbury while opening up shots for others.
After shooting 1-for-6 and dishing out just one assist on Saturday, it looks like he might need a little more time to get acclimated with his new team.
"Actually, I'm not worried about my offense," he said. "I'll see more open shots because we play a team game here. I just didn't knock them down.
"In fact, I'd prefer to do a better job on defense. No matter how many points I score, I try to stick to my opponent and stop him from scoring. I am happy about that part."
Marbury said there's more to Li than scoring.
"He is a great addition," said Marbury, who had 16 points, six rebounds and eight assists.
"He's a lot better than what people have been saying as far as scoring ability. He's really a good playmaker as well. He knows how to play for others.
"Definitely, his presence could make my job easier. I don't think he's maximized his full potential yet. Once he continues to get familiar playing with us, he will become even better."
Beijing's other title-run cornerstone, former NBA player Randolph Morris, said he expects a lot of Li as well.
"What he does better than anybody else on the team is he is a great post player offensively. He brings a lot of weapons to our team," said Morris, who scored 23.
"He was a little nervous at times, trying to find where he fits in. He has the toughest job because he's the only new player we have. As the season goes on, he will be more dangerous."
Wearing his new championship ring, Morris said the team has become more confident and mature, but he still sees room for improvement.
Arenas to return soon
While the Ducks were celebrating their opening victory, the Sharks were left to worry about Gilbert Arenas, who suffered a thigh strain in his right leg in the first quarter.
According to his Chinese agent, Sha Yifeng, the 30-year-old won't take long to recover.
"It's not that bad. The team doctor told me he needs at most one week or maybe a shorter time to come back. And he will follow the team to the next road game in Tianjin," Sha told the Oriental Morning Post on Sunday.
(China Daily 11/26/2012 page24)