Yao, Wang to bring ‘Yin and Yang’ to world basketball event
Last updated 03:40pm (Mla time) 07/18/2006
BEIJING -- China is mulling a Yin and Yang strategy for the upcoming World Basketball Championships, based on the inside and outside games of Yao Ming and Wang Zhizhi, known together as the "Walking Great Wall."
The current national side is banking on the domineering skills of NBA All Star Yao to command the center position, while 2.14 meter (seven foot-one-inch) sharp-shooting Wang keeps defenders from collapsing on Yao by hoisting up three pointers from the perimeter.
"For the world championships, the Yao-Wang combination is set, right now the key issue is which other players are best adapted to play with them," team manager Gong Luming told journalists.
"We are going to get results with this team because the Yao-Wang combination is the best tandem of big men in the world," he said.
The World Championships, which begin in Japan on August 19, will be the first time that the 2.26 meter Yao has played with Wang since 2001, not long after the "Walking Great Wall" nickname was coined for China's seven-foot basketball players.
"The teams are going to be strong at the World Championships, at game time, Yao Ming will play center, but the defense is going to collapse on him, that is when we need to coordinate and get opportunities on the perimeter," Wang told journalists after a practice session on Monday.
"Yao Ming is so tall, he has good skills, so our strategy should be to try to play an inside game," Wang said.
The media have called Yao "the sun," or the Yang essence in the traditional Chinese philosophy on maintaining balance, while Wang is being called "the moon", or the Yin essence.
However, key to Yao's participation will be whether or not he can fully recover from a broken foot sustained in a Houston Rocket match in April.
With Yao recovering, Wang has led the team with averages of 20 points and 10 rebounds per game during a recent series of warm up matches in Italy, where he scored 44 points against Japan in one game and notched 19 first-half points against Italy.
The former star with the mainland Bayi Rockets was kicked off the national side after he refused to play for China as he pursued a four-year NBA career with the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat.
But with the 2008 Beijing Olympics approaching the team has again sought his services in the hopes that China can win its first-ever Olympic basketball medal.
"The thing that really has excited me, is that he [Wang] has scored at least 20 points every game," the Basketball Pioneers newspaper quoted Yao as saying.
"The key is whether he can adjust his game when I come back. When I return, the offense and the defense are going to be set up around me, so Big Wang is going to have to adjust to a new role, from being the main offensive player to a player with more of a supporting role," the report said, still quoting Yao.
For China's Lithuanian coach Jonas Kazlauskas, it is crucial to get Yao and Wang on the practice court together so that a strategy can be worked out.
"We will set up a strategy that fits both of them, this is for sure. But as Yao Ming must train by himself for the coming weeks, there is still not a lot of time to have him work with Wang Zhizhi," Kazlauskas told journalists.
Team manager Gong said Yao is expected to fully recover by early August and should see action in an eight nation tournament in Nanjing city beginning on August 11.
If his recovery is quicker he may see action against the US national team in southern Guangzhou city on August 7.
Meanwhile, China will play seven warm up matches in the next two weeks in tournaments in France and Spain beginning on July 21. Yao will not be traveling with the team.
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