Yao '50-50' for August world games

Updated: June 16, 2006, 4:33 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Yao Ming said Friday that his chances of playing for China in this summer's world championships are "50-50" as he continues to recover from a broken left foot.

 Yao Ming
Yao

The 7-foot-6 Yao will head to Shanghai in the next week to continue rehabilitating after breaking the fifth metatarsal in the foot on April 10 in Utah. Yao had surgery four days later, and doctors have ordered him not to play basketball until Aug. 1.

The tournament starts in Japan on Aug. 19, giving Yao just over two weeks to get ready.

"That's 50-50," Yao said. "Two weeks for me, I don't know. I'm going to try to get into my best shape in that time.

"If I really cannot get into the best shape, I better not go, because the world championship is a very big thing for most of the [Chinese] players."

Yao had a cast removed from the foot last week and he's been jogging in regular shoes for the first time since the injury. Now, all he needs is his conditioning.

"Everything for me is very tiring right now," said Yao, who averaged 34 minutes in 57 games last season.

Even if he misses the world championships, Yao said he'll be ready to play by the time the Rockets open training camp.

"I still have plenty of time until October," he said. "That's good enough for me."

While he's behind in his offseason conditioning, Yao said he's still been able to work on his game this summer, breaking down film of himself and shooting jump shots.

He went through a similar rehab process last season, when he missed 21 games following toe surgery. He established himself as one of the league's top centers when he returned, averaging 26 points and 12 rebounds after the All-Star break. He topped 30 points six times in March.

"I always want to do more, whatever will make me better," said Yao, who averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds last season. "It's pretty similar to my injury in the season. I can do some things on the court right now.

"Not the post moves yet, but pretty soon, I think."

Yao has set two statistical goals for next season: more minutes and a higher field goal percentage. He shot 52 percent from the field last season, but his goal is 55 percent.

"I hope I can stay more minutes on the court. I believe that would help the team," Yao said. "My field-goal shooting needs to go up a little bit.

"I have a lot of work," he said. "I need to work on my skills, I need to work on my shot. Everything."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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