Yao, Yi to carry Chinese basketball hopes in Olympics

July 20th, 2008 - 5:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 20 (Xinhua) Basketball is keenly followed in China and National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian would be looked up to by millions of fans at home when they begin their Olympic stint next month. Chinese men’s national team has a huge fan following at home, Yao and Yi being the most popular sport stars in the country.

After six years with the Houston Rockets, Yao has become the richest Chinese sports celebrity and a symbol of Chinese with a great success in the western nations.

Yi, on the other hand, was selected sixth overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and, after Yao, set off another wave on the NBA global market.

He was traded to the New Jersey Nets with Bobby Simons for Richard Jefferson in June last year. Besides his marketing potential, Yi proved he deserves a starting position in the national team with his eye-catching performances in his rookie year in the NBA.

Yi started 49 out of 66 matches for the Bucks, averaging 8.6 points and 5.2 rebounds in 25 minutes.

He averaged 18.8 points and 8.3 rebounds in seven warm-up matches after he recovered from a knee injury.

As a slim power forward, Yi prefers to attack from low post and has delicate touch on mid-range shots, which is a perfect arrangement for the pivot Yao.

The experience of being one-year at NBA has built up Yi’s defence and the dedication for the game.

Undoubtedly, Yao is still the leader of the squad and the one who carries the most expectations of the Chinese for a breakthrough at the Beijing Olympics.

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