It was a clash of two very different philosophies of basketball, and yet, once the referee sent the ball in the air for the tip off, the flow of the game itself took over to dominate all other cultural and philosophical differences. On Friday, October 11th, one of the Chinese Basketball Association's (CBA) most-popular franchises - the Beijing Ducks - hosted one of the most historically successful European basketball team's - Spain's Real Madrid - in a pre-season exhibition that turned out to be far more intriguing than anyone imagined. After a topsy-turvy encounter, Madrid used a timely fourth quarter run to speed past Beijing to a 92-86 victory.
The Euroleague's CEO Jordi Bertomeu was in attendance too, to overlook the game's proceedings.
The Ducks, who won the CBA title in 2012 and were in last year's semi-finals, hosted the game in Beijing's MasterCard Center. This game was the first time that Real Madrid - who were runner-up in the Euroleague last season - faced against a Chinese opponent in their long history. It was the last game of the pre-season for Real Madrid, who were coming off the Endesa Super Cup title against Barcelona.
A little over a month ago, the Chief Business Development Officer of the Euroleague Roser Queralto announced the game in Beijing with the proclamation that Chinese and European teams play quite a similar game, and an on-court interaction could strengthen the relations of both the leagues. While the playing styles rooting from Spanish and the Chinese tactics weren't exactly the same, the final result was an evenly-matched contest.
The Beijing Ducks of course feature former NBA All Star Stephon Marbury, who had been their hero and leader en route to their maiden CBA title in 2012. Marbury proved to be unstoppable for the Madrid defense, and slashed and shot his way to 25 points. The chief benefactor of Marbury's kick and drives or rebounding off his missed opportunities was his American teammate Randolph Morris, who kept the Ducks close with a game-high 28 point performance.
It was a back-and-forth contest throughout, and while Beijing mostly relied on their two American imports for offense, Madrid spread the ball around to keep their top contributors Jaycee Carroll, Sergio Rodriguez, and Tremmel Darden involved. The Ducks made a surprising third-quarter run to lead 63-57 before the final period began. The game continued to be close in the fourth quarter, and the score was tied 77 all with just five minutes left on the clock. Madrid finally broke out to a 13-3 run to put the game past Beijing, and settled on a 92-86 win.
Madrid will now begin their regular season back in Spain against Valladolid, while Beijing have to wait till the end of November for the start of the CBA season.