Basketball: McGrady's China team finish bottom

BEIJING (AFP) - Tracy McGrady's Qingdao Eagles have finished bottom of the Chinese basketball league at the end of a frustrating season for the former National Basketball Association star.

McGrady scored 30 points and nine rebounds in Sunday's 121-104 defeat to Guangdong Hongyuan, who topped the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league of 17 teams, with the top eight now qualifying for the play-offs.

Despite some impressive individual performances from former Houston Rockets shooting guard McGrady, his first season has been marked by poor results with Qingdao winning just eight of their 32 games.

The 33-year-old arrived in China to a hero's welcome before the season started in November, but Qingdao went on a winless streak until late December.

McGrady was suspended for one game last month after he criticised referees on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo following his team's loss to Bayi Rockets.

Gilbert Arenas, another former NBA star, also failed to carry his team into the play-offs, with his Shanghai Sharks side finishing 14th.

But Stephon Marbury, who was the most famous overseas player in China before McGrady's arrival, will again feature in the knock-out stages after his team, the Beijing Ducks, finished third.

Marbury played a starring role in Beijing's run to the 2012 title. The defending champions will play Zhejiang Guangsha in the first round of play-offs, which begin on February 27.

Nearly 30 former NBA players are now playing in the CBA, raising standards and making basketball, already one of China's favourite sports, even more popular, with a reported television audience of more than 700 million over a season.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.