Yao Ming’s participation at this year’s Asian basketball championships remains shrouded in mystery as he battles back from his latest injury, Chinese media reported yesterday.
The towering NBA center, who suffered a serious ankle fracture playing for the Houston Rockets in November last year, has refused to speculate on his comeback.
However, China’s captain Liu Wei expressed cautious optimism about the appearance of the 2.28m Yao in Wuhan this September.
“Nothing is certain right now,” Liu, a former teammate of Yao’s at the Shanghai Sharks, told the China Daily. “He will stay in Shanghai for a while and then go back to the States for an injury check. Nobody knows if he will be able to play until the results come out.”
The Sept. 15 to 25 tournament guarantees the winners a spot at next year’s London Olympics.
“We must secure the title at the Asian Championship this time,” said Liu, mindful of China’s loss to Iran in the 2009 final at home. “Not only paving the way to London, but winning back respect in Asia.”
Yao, selected first overall by Houston in the 2002 draft, has caused Chinese interest in the NBA to soar, but has been cursed by injury throughout his career in the US.
He played just over half a season in 2005-2006 because of a toe infection and a broken foot, limiting his playing time over the following two years.
Yao then suffered a hairline fracture in his foot in 2008-2009, before breaking his left ankle in Houston’s loss to the Washington Wizards in November.
Despite the fact the 30-year-old only took off his protective boot a month ago, China placed their prized asset on their roster for summer training this month.