Yao stays downbeat
China's talisman Yao Ming was downbeat about his team's chances of winning a medal despite returning from injury to help them win two of three matches at the Stankovic Cup Olympic warm-up tournament in Hangzhou.
The Houston Rockets All-Star played a part in all three games but was clearly not fully fit as he continued his recovery from surgery on a stress fracture to his left foot in March.
China beat Serbia 96-72 on Yao's return last Thursday, went down 72-71 to Angola on Saturday and rounded the tournament off with a 72-50 victory over a weakened Russia team on Sunday.
In the final game, the 7ft-6in (2.28m) center contributed just six points, his lowest tally as a starter for China in eight years, and missed the awards ceremony to receive treatment.
“My form in the games might be an illusion, caused by the differing quality of opponents,” he told Sohu.com. “We have lots of problems, in rebound, in defence and in shooting quality, overall. These cannot be solved in one or two days.”
In a series of short answers, Yao said “yes” he could get back to his best form, “no” he was not confident China could win a medal in Beijing and “strength” was the biggest difference between China and their first Olympic opponents, the U.S.
Basketball is hugely popular in China but the hosts will have to be at their best to take one of the top four places in their group and progress to the quarter-finals of the Aug. 9-24 tournament.
As well as the U.S., China's first round group also includes world champions Spain, Angola and two more strong European teams, Germany and Greece, who secured the final berths in Athens at the weekend.