Retired star backs team's chance

Updated: 2011-09-22 08:00

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)

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With media and fans pessimistic about the team's chance to claim gold at the FIBA Asia Championship, Yao Ming said he still considers it the favorite.

"Our main rivals, Iran and South Korea, are both strong teams with sharp offense and aggressive defense. But I think our team still has the best chance to win the championship.

"So far, I have seen great quality in the team's performance. They are generating more chemistry and getting more and more ready," Yao said in the commentator seat after China breezed past Jordan, 93-60, on Tuesday.

Plagued by injuries and a lackluster bench roster, the host's chance to claim the title - and with it, the only automatic berth to the London Olympics - seems to be in jeopardy.

Yao also pointed out the squad's weaknesses, and urged the guards to play tougher defense against penetration.

"This lineup is much younger than when I played," he said. "It's good to keep it fresh, but our young bench players still lag behind the main guys. They may let the (lead) get cut down by opponents. It will be a big concern in the knockout round.

"Meanwhile, our defensive rotation still needs to be stronger on the perimeter. Stopping fast guards of the Iranian side from penetrating should be our main focus."