Yao Ming, China lose to Australia in Olympic warmup

July 31, 2008 4:55am CST
Yao Ming was kept in check and the rest of China's team overwhelmed by dogged Australia defense in a 67-55 loss in a pre-Olympic warm-up game Wednesday. The Houston Rockets center was held to 10 points on just eight shots from the field and went four from six from the free throw line for a total of 14 points over 30 minutes on court. With Australia forcing 25 turnovers, Yao had comparatively few touches, while veteran Li Nan, the only other China player to score in the double digits, added 11 points. "We have a lot to improve on in a short time but we will do our best," said Yao, who shot 63 percent from the field. China has built its game around Yao, who just weeks ago returned from a foot injury that prematurely ended his NBA season. China coach Jonas Kazlauskas has used different player combinations to try to produce game-dominating performances from the 2.26-meter (7-foot-6) Yao. Neither former Dallas Mavericks center Wang Zhizhi or New Jersey Nets power forward Yi Jianlian made much of an impression on the game, China's second in the FIBA Diamond Ball tournament in the eastern city of Nanjing. Yi missed all three of his field goal attempts, while Wang shot just 20 percent for four points. In potentially worse news for Kazlauskas, veteran guard Liu Wei, who partnered effectively with Yao in Tuesday night's 83-74 win over Angola, was sent to hospital after crashing into a screen set by Australia center Chris Anstey. Liu's condition wasn't immediately known. Kazlauskas said the turnovers early in the game led to a bad case of nerves and even worse decision-making. "For sure, we didn't play a good game," the Lithuanian said at a post-game news conference. Yao clashed repeatedly under the basket with Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut, although the matchup was equal overall and mostly good-natured. Bogut, who anchors Australia the same way Yao anchors China, had nine points on just 33 percent shooting. Australia coach Brian Goorjian was pleased by the performance but wanted to see more baskets. "Offensively, we've just got to get better," Goorjian said, pointing out that Tuesday marked the first time Bogut had joined the team ahead of these Olympics. Anstey, 33, of the Melbourne Tigers, went three for six from three-point range to finish the night with a team-leading 11 points. Australia joins Croatia, Iran, Lithuania, Russia and Argentina in Group A at the Olympics. China faces Angola, Germany, Greece, Spain and the United States in Group B
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