Chinese basketball investigates suspicious game result

BEIJING (AP) — China’s basketball authorities have ordered an investigation into a championship round game that ended in a last-minute win after a string of ball losses.

The investigation points to ongoing suspicions about widespread corruption in Chinese sport, with the country’s top professional football league being particularly hard hit.

In Game 3 on Friday of the first round of the Chinese Basketball Association playoffs, the Jiangsu Dragons led the Shanghai Sharks by 100-96 with 1 minute and 36 seconds to go.

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 win in the series, sending them through to the Quarterfinals.

Fans immediately yelled foul and the CBA, led by former eight-time Houston Rockets NBA All-Star Yao Ming, announced on Saturday that they wanted answers.

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

“We have CBA League (Beijing) Sports Co., Ltd. tasked with launching an investigation into the matter and asked the two clubs to provide their reports on the match,” the statement said. Penalties would be imposed for violations, it said, without giving any further details.

Match-fixing in China is believed to be controlled by powerful gambling syndicates involving players, coaches, referees and federation officials. Football has been much more targeted than basketball, where compensation, sponsorships and prize money are less generous.

Basketball continues to be hugely popular in China, largely due to Yao’s storied NBA career. This is despite a year-long ban on showing NBA games in the country after a team leader angered Beijing with comments supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

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

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