September 5, 2006

China needs more overseas experience, says Yao

BEIJING (Reuters) - Houston Rockets center Yao Ming
believes more of his Chinese team mates need to gain experience
abroad for the national team to be competitive at the 2008
Beijing Olympics, state media reported on Tuesday.

China finished a disappointing 11th at the world
championships in Japan after being knocked out 95-64 by
eventual runners-up Greece last week.

Yao, who averaged a tournament-high 25.3 points and
virtually carried China into the second round, told state TV
that several of his team mates should join more competitive
leagues overseas.

"As the 2008 Olympics are drawing near, we should send
abroad the likes of Yi Jianlian and Wang Shipeng as soon as
possible in a bid to raise our level in the short term," the
7ft 5in NBA All-Star center said.

"Even if our basketballers fail to play as regulars, we
still could benefit at least from their training. I played as a
substitute 10 minutes per game initially, too. It depends on
your will and work."

Yao lamented his team mates' lack of strength and courage
after China crashed out of the worlds, and remarked in media
reports last week that Chinese basketball was too

But he conceded it was "impossible" for domestic clubs
hungry for national success to send key players to foreign
leagues, Xinhua news agency reported.

China's basketball officials, concerned that foreign
careers might interrupt national duty, have also been reluctant
to allow young talent to seek their fortunes in overseas

Yi Jianlian, touted as China's next Yao Ming and courted by
several NBA clubs, declined to enter this year's NBA draft
after China Basketball Association (CBA) Director Li Yuanwei
voiced concerns about young Chinese players warming benches in
the NBA.

Menk Bateer and Wang Zhizhi, the other two towers in
China's NBA "Great Wall," were characterized by regular
transfers and little game time.

His NBA aspirations clashed with China duties, leading to
his sacking after failing to join the national team during the
Asian Games in 2002. Wang returned to China earlier this year.

Wang and the rest of Yao's team mates will return to
domestic league clubs for the kickoff of the CBA 2006/2007
season in October, before being called up for November's Asian

Yao has been exempted from the Asian Games, Xinhua