Chinese basketball investigates suspicious game result

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BEIJING—Chinese basketball authorities have ordered an investigation into a championship-round game that ended with a last-minute, come-from-behind win following a series of turnovers.

The investigation points to continuing suspicions about wide-spread corruption in Chinese sports, with the nation’s top-flight professional soccer league particularly hard-hit.

In Friday’s Game 3 of the first round of the Chinese Basketball Association playoffs, the Jiangsu Dragons led the Shanghai Sharks 100-96 with 1 minute, 36 seconds left to play.

The Dragons then committed a series of turnovers over the next minute, giving the Sharks a 10-point lead. The game ended in a 108-104 win for Shanghai and a 2-1 victory in the series, sending them into the quarterfinals.

Fans immediately cried foul and the CBA, headed by former Houston Rockets eight-time NBA all-star Yao Ming, announced Saturday it was demanding answers.

“The Chinese Basketball Association has paid great attention to the CBA playoff game between Shanghai and Jiangsu, which has triggered huge doubts from media and fans,” the association said in a statement on its social media account.

“We have tasked the CBA League (Beijing) Sports Co., Ltd. with launching an investigation into the matter, and requested the two clubs to submit their reports on the match,” the statement said. Punishments would be meted out for any violations found, it said, without giving specifics.

Match-fixing in China is believed to be controlled by influential gambling syndicates, with players, coaches, referees and association officials all involved. Soccer has been much more heavily targeted than basketball, where compensation, sponsorships and prize money are less generous.

Basketball remains enormously popular in China, mostly because of Yao’s storied NBA career. That’s despite a year-long ban on NBA games being shown in the country after a team executive angered Beijing with remarks supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

The CBA has produced relatively few international stars in recent years, with the last, Zhou Qi, playing one season for the Rockets in 2017-2018.

Image credits: AP

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