|Xinjiang Flying Tigers|
|History||Xinjiang Flying Tigers |
|Location||Ürümqi, Xinjiang, China|
|Team colors||Sky Blue, White|
|Main sponsor||Guanghui Group|
|Team manager||Guo Jian|
|Head coach||Adiljan Suleyman|
|Team captain||Abdusalam Abdurixit|
|Xinjiang Flying Tigers|
|Hanyu Pinyin||X?nji?ng Gu?nghuì F?ih?|
The Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers (Chinese: ) is a professional basketball team based in Ürümqi, Xinjiang, China. The team plays its home games in the Hongshan Arena, which has a capacity of 3,500 people. The club joined the Chinese Basketball Association Dvision 2 in the 1999-2000 CBA season, advanced to Division 1A in the 2002-03 season, and had three consecutive Grand Finals appearance in the 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11 seasons. The Flying Tigers won their first Championship in the 2016-17 CBA season, defeating their long-time rival Guangdong Southern Tigers 4-0 in the Grand Finals. The Flying Tigers are widely regarded as one of the Big Four Franchises of the CBA, together with Guangdong Southern Tigers, Beijing Ducks, and Liaoning Flying Leopards.
The Xinjiang Flying Tigers joined the Chinese Basketball Association's Division 2 ahead of the 1999-2000 CBA season, as the first step in the league's plans to expand into the country's western interior. The Flying Tigers won their Division 2 season with no losses and advanced to Division 1B. Two years later, the Flying Tigers won the 2001-02 season of CBA Division 1B and advanced to Division 1A, the ultimate arena for Chinese basketball.
In their first Division 1A season, the Flying Tigers managed to advance to the playoffs, but lost to Beijing Ducks in a 1-3 Quarter-Final series. After this season, they qualified for the playoffs for another three consecutive seasons, but was never able to advance beyond the first round. In the 2007-08 season, the Flying Tigers signed the former NBA player Mengke Bateer (a.k.a. Monkh Baatar), who brought the team to the second place in regular season. However, a Flying Tigers player, Sou Song Cun, a.k.a. Guan Xiuchang, was found to have a foreign nationality but registered as a domestic player. The league punished the Flying Tigers by treating every game that Sou Song Cun played as a loss for the Flying Tigers. As a result, the Flying Tigers' ranking dropped to the 11th placed, and they missed the playoff.
After the disappointing season, head coach Jiang Xingquan promoted several young players from the youth team to the first team, including Shirelijan Muxtar and Kyranbek Makhan, who would go on to become the most iconic players of the franchise. Together with Bateer and Jiang, they created the first golden era of the Xinjiang Flying Tigers. Mengke Bateer became the first player to win three consecutive CBA MVPs, and the team made it to three consecutive CBA Grand Finals. However, in each of the Grand Finals series, Xinjiang lost to the Guangdong Southern Tigers.
The Flying Tigers started its rebuild in the 2012-13 season. Surprisingly, they reached the Grand Finals the next season with a relatively low-key roster, despite losing to Beijing Ducks 2-4. Before the 2014-15 season, Xinjiang signed the highly hyped free-agent youth player, Zhou Qi, to build a team around him. Surrounding Zhou Qi, the Flying Tigers signed former NBA stars Andray Blatche and Jordan Crawford. However, Jordan Crawford left the team after a few games into the season for medical reasons and refused to return. Losing a key piece of the championship contending roster, the team struggled to find a replacement through the season and ended the turbulent season at the 9th place, missing the playoffs. The next season, Xinjiang signed championship coach Li Qiuping and all-star forward Li Gen and lost to Sichuan Blue Whales 0-3 in the Semi-Finals.
In the following 2016-17 season, the Flying Tigers sign Bulgarian guard Darius Adams. The star-filled roster of Andray Blatche, Darius Adams, Zhou Qi, Li Gen, Shirelijan Muxtar, and Kyranbek Makhan triumphed through the season, finishing first place in the regular season. In the playoffs, Xinjiang defeated Shandong Kingston Lions 3-0 in the Quarter-Finals and Liaoning Flying Leopards 4-1 in the Semi-Finals. In the Grand Finals, the Flying Tigers defeated their long-time rival Guangdong Southern Tigers lead by Yi Jianlian in a dominating 4-0 series to win the first ever championship in the Franchise's history. Darius Adams won the FMVP award.
After winning the championship, Zhou Qi decided to pursue his NBA dream and joined Houston Rockets. Losing the all-star center, Xinjiang finished the season with a 1-3 loss to Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Quarter-Finals. The following 2018-19 season is another turbulent one for the Flying Tigers. The team changed the head coach mid-season, signing another championship coach, the Xinjiang native Adiljan Suleyman. The team also changed the foreign players four times during the season, trying Al Jefferson, Nick Minnerath, Hamed Haddadi, and Darius Adams, and finally settled with Jarnell Stokes and Kay Felder at the start of the playoffs. The team surprised many with another trip to the Grand Finals. However, they still lost to Guangdong Southern Tigers 0-4.
The Grand-Finals run did not stop the team from continuing to rebuild. The young Abdusalam Abdurixit has risen to be the first option of the team after the two foreign players in this season. The next season, the Flying Tigers promoted another 7 players from the youth team, including the highly hyped forward Qi Lin. Zhou Qi also returned to Xinjiang after his contract with Houston Rockets terminated. Many believe they will form the future Big Three of Xinjiang and potentially build a dynasty. The following 2020-21 season will be the first CBA season with the salary cap enforced. In response, Xinjiang doubled down on the rebuild. The iconic Shirelijan Muxtar left for a max contract with Nanjing Monkey Kings. 9-year Flying Tiger Yu Changdong left for a max-contract with Beijing Royal Fighters. The team also traded Kyranbek Makhan for 8 million CNY (1.2 million USD) with Shanghai Sharks. The Flying Tigers filled the roster with more players from the youth team. Many predict the team that averages 22 years in age and without a current max contract will remain a championship contender for years to come.
|Season||Regular season ranking||Playoff finish||Last series|
|2019-20||2||Semi-Finals||0-2 Liaoning Flying Leopards|
|2018-19||3||Runners-up||0-4 Guangdong Southern Tigers|
|2017-18||6||Quarter-Finals||1-3 Guangdong Southern Tigers|
|2016-17||1||Champions||4-0 Guangdong Southern Tigers|
|2015-16||2||Semi-Finals||0-3 Sichuan Blue Whales|
|2013-14||2||Runners-up||2-4 Beijing Ducks|
|2012-13||4||Semi-Finals||0-3 Guangdong Southern Tigers|
|2011-12||4||Semi-Finals||0-3 Guangdong Southern Tigers|
|2010-11||1||Runners-up||2-4 Guangdong Southern Tigers|
|2009-10||2||Runners-up||1-4 Guangdong Southern Tigers|
|2008-09||2||Runners-up||1-4 Guangdong Southern Tigers|
|2005-06||2 (North)||Quarter-Finals||0-3 Jiangsu Dragons|
|2004-05||3 (North)||Quarter-Finals||0-2 Jiangsu Dragons|
|2003-04||5||Quarter-Finals||1-2 Jilin Northeast Tigers|
|2002-03||4||Quarter-Finals||1-3 Beijing Ducks|
Note: Flags indicate national team eligibility at FIBA sanctioned events. Players may hold other non-FIBA nationality not displayed.
|Pos.||Starting 5||Bench 1||Bench 2|
|C||Zhou Qi||Donatas Motiej?nas||Zhu Chuanyu|
|SF||Abdusalam Adburixit||Qi Lin|
|SG||Tang Caiyu||Liu Lipeng|
|PG||Zeng Lingxu||Yu Dehao||Xerzat Samat|