I was watching the US vs China basketball game on Sunday with a lot of attention through the first half on Sunday, but when the blowout began I went back to only watching it in spurts. It was on, but I was engrossed in other activities with it in the background. Then a little blurb about Yao and Chris Kaman came up in the third.
“We are not afraid of Germany,” he said. “Yi (Jianlian) has improved tremendously, and he can limit Nowitzki. And I can take care of Kaman.”
That's right, this:
was no fluke. Yao knows that Kaman is his bitch. Not only can he not stop him in the NBA, there is not a chance he can stop him in International play, where the moving pick is a thing of beauty and Yao can effectively goal tend. That's like allowing Hakeem to take an extra step on The Dream Shake, it's just unfair in one on one play. I am loving the semi-trash talking coming out of Yao, it was the singular biggest improvement in his game last year. The passion was there to dominate, and before the injury that is what he was doing. I am beyond excited that he still has that aspect of his game still intact.
I have no problem visualizing Kaman's destruction at the hands of Yao, but I'm not so sure about Yi limiting a monumentally better player in Dirk. I don't know all the ins and outs of the international game, but much better is much better, and that doesn't even come close to describing the gap between those two players. After losses to the US by 31 and Spain by 10 in OT, China has to beat either Greece or Germany plus Angola and be 2-3 to advance. That loss to Spain was extremely promising. Yao actually had a relatively sub par game, mostly due to his 4-12 shooting performance, and China still took them to OT. Unfortunately they ran out of gas and couldn't keep the Spanish team from winning. Mind you, this team from Spain has 5-6 legitimate NBA players on it, that's a heck of a performance from China. If they can keep up that type of play, they will give Greece and Germany good games. I'm just hoping they don't get discouraged by loss that could have turned into a victory.
Let me get this out there too, I'm about as big of a USA nationalist, backer and fan as they come, but I don't have to begrudge Yao and his country a chance to bring national pride just by getting out of their pool. There isn't a chance on earth that they win a medal, so if they can somehow knock off anyone by the US to get there, I'm all for it.
China gets their shot at Germany on Saturday morning at 7AM CST. Good luck Yao!