Jones, Flames down 0-2 in WCBA FinalsBahamian center scored 20 points in each of the first two games of the series
Bahamian female professional basketball player Jonquel Jones and her Shanxi Xing Rui (XR) Flames are down two games to none in the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association (WCBA) Finals which got underway over the weekend in China.
Jones and the Flames dropped the first game of the best-of-five championship series on the road, and then were blasted at home by the two-time defending champions Beijing Great Wall team. The Flames lost 84-81 in the opening game of the series on Saturday, and fell 82-55 in a wire-to-wire loss on Monday.
In this series, Jones is matched up against Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) regular season and finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) Sylvia Fowles in the middle, and so far, the numbers are pretty much even. However, Fowles has her Beijing Great Wall team up two games to none in the series. They can win their third straight title on Wednesday.
On Saturday, Jones and the Flames kept pace with Beijing throughout but couldn’t close. Fowles led Beijing with 23 points, 15 rebounds and three assists. She shot 7-for-13 from the floor. By her usual standards, Jones had a subpar game shooting-wise for the Flames on Saturday. She shot just 8-for-22 from the field and out of nine from downtown. She still finished with a double-double, scoring 20 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. She added four blocks, four steals and three assists.
In the first game, Ting Shao added 17 points and six rebounds for Beijing. Xiufeng Shi netted 13, whilst Fan Shang scored 12, had four rebounds and three assists, and Honghua Zhou dropped in 11. Behind Jones, Wu Tongtong poured in 19 and had five assists for the Flames. Guo Ziyu and Yu Qi had 12 points apiece for the Flames.
On Monday, Beijing Great Wall led from beginning to finish. They controlled the entire game, increasing their lead after each quarter. Beijing Great Wall outrebounded Jones and the Flames 41-29 including 32 on the defensive glass. Jones had more than half of the Flames’ rebounds with 15 while having another 20-point effort. Her field goal percentage wasn’t that much better, shooting just 8-for-18 from the floor including one out of eight from downtown. Jones had 20 points, two assists and two steals. The only other player in double figures for the Flames was Wu Tongtong who had 10 points.
Fowles had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Beijing. Song Gao and Xiufeng Shi led Beijing with 17 points apiece. Gao added five rebounds and Shi had three rebounds and two assists. Ting Shao had 15 points, five rebounds and four steals for Beijing, and BanBan Yang was their only other player in double figures with 12.
Shanxi XR and Beijing will play game three of the series on Wednesday.
In the semi-final series against the Guangdong Dolphins, Jones averaged 33 points and 19.33 rebounds per game to lead her team to a three-game sweep in that series. In the league quarter-finals, she averaged 30.33 points and 20.67 rebounds against the Heilongjiang Dragons to lead the Flames to a three-game sweep in that series.
Jones averaged 29.3 points, 18.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game for the Flames this season. She led the league in rebounds this past season, and finished second in scoring. Jones is seeking her second consecutive title in Asia, having led the Asan Woori Bank Wibee to the Women’s Korean Basketball League (WKBA) Championship last year.
It won’t be an easy task as pennant-winning Beijing swept the season series with the Flames and will be looking to win their third straight title.
Following the season in China, Jones will have about two months off before the start of the 2019 WNBA season. She broke the single season record for rebounds last season, grabbing 403 rebounds. Jones was honored as the WNBA Most Improved Player in the WNBA last season, and made her first all-star game. She also finished fifth in the league’s MVP voting.