As injured Houston Rockets center Yao Ming is expected to be sidelined for three to four months before he can begin rehabilitation, he may not be in shape to play with the host basketball team at the Olympics.
Chinese basketball officials braced for the grim possibility that injured basketball star Yao Ming may miss the Beijing Olympics and were preparing to go ahead without him, state media said Thursday.
"We are shocked. It is definitely something that you didn't need with just about six months to the Olympics," Chinese Basketball Association vice-president Hu Jiashi was quoted as saying by the China Daily.
"We have started to make some preparations to play without Yao."
The Houston Rockets centre was this week found to have a stress fracture in his left foot that ended his NBA season and raised fears he may not be in top form for the Beijing Games.
The Rockets said the six-time NBA all-star was expected to be sidelined for three to four months before he can begin rehabilitation.
That would leave Yao, 27, with only a month or two to regain match fitness for the August 8-24 Games, a tight schedule for the man who China hopes will lead the national team to a first-ever basketball medal.
"Yao Ming still has hope of playing in the Olympics but that gives him little time to prepare with the team," the People's Daily newspaper said.
It quoted national team coach Jonas Kazlauskas as saying plans were being formulated to take Yao's injury into account.
"Right now, the first thing we need to do is face reality and prepare with a positive attitude for the unexpected," he said.
"At the same time, we have to formulate a battle plan based on Yao's injury."
Yao himself raised concerns during a televised press conference in the United States after the injury was disclosed.
"If I cannot play in the Olympics for my country, it would be the biggest loss of my career," said a visibly downcast Yao.
Date created : 2008-02-28