Wed, Jul 26, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Wang Zhizhi to miss championships


China's first NBA player, Wang Zhizhi, pulled a ligament and will be out of action for at least two weeks, further complicating China's preparations for next month's world championships in Japan.

The 2.12m center, who played for Dallas, the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami, suffered the injury during the third quarter of China's 76-57 loss to hosts France in an international friendly on Monday, Chinese media reports and the basketball association said.

Wang had been added to the team after Houston Rockets All Star Yao Ming broke his fifth metatarsal in his left foot on April 10.

Wang's return followed a reconciliation with the Chinese Basketball Association, which kicked Wang off the national team for refusing to return for team duties following his 2001-2002 rookie NBA season.

Wang issued an apology in April, saying he had let down his country and telling fans: "Big Zhi is back. Big Zhi won't let you down."

During his brief NBA career, Wang averaged 4.4 points and 1.7 rebounds. His fame has been eclipsed by the success of 2.29m Yao, now one of the league's top centers.

Yao's availability for the world championships on Aug. 19 in Sapporo, Japan, is in doubt because he is recovering from foot surgery. He has said his chances of playing in the tournament are "50-50."

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