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Beijing Ducks players celebrate their first-ever CBA title after beating defending Guangdong Hongyuan in the best-of-seven final series in Beijing on Friday. [Photo\Xinhua]
BEIJING - Beijing Ducks, led by former NBA star Stephon Marbury who notched game-high 41 points on Friday night, clinched their first-ever title of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league.
Edging defending champions Guangdong Hongyuan 124-121 at home, Beijing Ducks, who entered the finals for the first time, won 4-1 on aggregate in the best-of-seven series. Guangdong had been crowned seven times in the past eight seasons.
With the breathtaking victory, Beijing Ducks became the fourth CBA title holder in 17 years, following eight-time winners Bayi Rockets, Shanghai Sharks and Guangdong Hongyuan.
"I still can't believe we won the title and I need some time to accept the fact. Before the new season was launched, the team had been confident in playing better, but it's been a mere dream to win the title for us," Beijing coach Min Lulei said after the tough duel.
Marbury, who had never played in NBA or CBA finals before the year 2012, vowed to win a league title when he came to China three years ago. His dream also came true tonight.
Marbury was again the man of the match, chipping in 41 points, three rebounds and seven assists while teenager Zhai Xiaochuan added 22 points. Beijing's another foreign player Randolph Morris was not on fire from the field but his consistent free throw gifted him 14 points.
The main threat to Beijing tonight came from Aaron Brooks, also a former NBA star, who collected 33 points, four rebounds and five assists for the visitors while James Singleton added 29 points and nine rebounds.
Both sides entered the game with determination and fought in every corner of the court. Guangdong found the attacking rhythm first, building up a comfortable 36-25 lead in the first quarter.
The momentum, however, shifted to Beijing as Marbury had two consecutive 3-pointers to lead the capital team to pull off a 15-4 run.
Leading 62-57 by the end of the second quarter, Beijing failed to build up a clear advantage in front of the 18,000 home fans in the third quarter as Guangdong answered every time when the home team tried to break off.
After a tense third quarter in which Beijing led by just one point at 94-93, Guangdong looked to be at about the peak of their game for the first five minutes in the final quarter, leading by eight points at 113-105.
To a thunderous home crowd, Beijing showed their battle qualities again and Li Xuelin's 3-pointer helped the team level it at 114-114 with 4:18 to go.
Marbury was fouled out in the last minute, but it did not lower his teammates' morale.
Chen Lei's free shot helped Beijing lead at 124-121 in the last seconds. After Singleton missed his shot from behind the arc, Beijing finally bagged the long-coveted title in their first CBA finals.
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