CBA president Yao Ming vows to take responsibility after 'failing' at home Asiad

CBA president Yao Ming says he will take full responsibility and accept all possible outcomes after China failed to defend their men's basketball title at home Asian Games.

Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) president Yao Ming says he will take full responsibility and accept all possible outcomes after China failed to defend their men's basketball title at home Asian Games following a disappointing FIBA World Cup campaign that saw China fail to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

"There are two ways for me to take responsibility. First, to resign and go back home – Shanghai is not too far from [Hangzhou]. Second, to accumulate these experiences, analyze them, and design the action plan for the next step. I will accept both," Yao told Xinhua on Friday.

China had a bleak record of one win and four losses at last month's World Cup in Manila, including a rout to the Philippines, ultimately finishing 29th of 32 teams and failing to secure a berth at Paris 2024.

Merely one month later, China were edged by the Philippines in the Asiad semifinal, thus failing to defend its Asian title, which was seen as the minimum expectation by Chinese fans.

"We failed to live up to expectations. We were dealing with frustration after the World Cup failure, and it was quite hard to make a quick adjustment. That's the reality, and we must face it," said Yao, who stood by the court in silence for several minutes after China were turned over by the Phillipines following Justin Brownlee's buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

"With 30 years of basketball experience like mine, I've seen all kinds of losses. As a member of China's team, losing a game is undoubtedly very frustrating. But as the leader, my priority is to send the players back to the locker room as soon as possible, because there are future matches awaiting them," Yao explained, as China had initially intended to skip the semifinal post-game press conference before coach Aleksandar Djordjevic and captain Zhao Jiwei returned to attend it.

Leading by 18 points at halftime, China suffered a reversal which started in the third quarter. Two days later, Yao attributed the loss to "two kinds of slackness."

"I'm not a coach and I can't evaluate what happened on the court, but it's clear that there was some slackness. One is a lax attitude, and the other is the wrong mindset of trying to crush the opponent in a short period instead of considering the game in the bigger picture," Yao addressed.

The 43-year-old also found the team lacking a sharp finisher like his former teammate Tracy McGrady, who stunned the world by scoring 13 points in just 35 seconds in one NBA game. "We need a guy to deliver the basketball to the rim continuously. This not only requires a high level of technical training but also a strong mental fortitude. We currently lack such a player and in Chinese culture, this kind of player has to withstand the doubt of being individualistic."

After the bitter defeat, Djordjevic stepped out to take responsibility while Zhao insisted that the players should shoulder the blame. In response to that, Yao said he thought failure didn't come to some "big names", but that every detail matters, and the FIBA Hall of Famer said he cared more about "who are the improvers in the future and what should they do."

Last November, China replaced head coach Du Feng, who had led the team through most of their World Cup qualifiers, with Serbia's Djordjevic. Yao admitted that it was a "tough decision" since a coach can only choose between coaching a club and the national team under domestic regulations.

In Yao's perspective, Djordjevic's arrival provided a bridge to connect Chinese basketball with the world, as the CBA president warned "there has been a huge gap between Chinese basketball and world basketball since 2019."

"We know that we are falling behind world-leading basketball. When we signed Djordjevic, I asked him to bring his own staff in addition to the domestic coaching crew we provided him with. If I remember correctly, his contract expires at the end of this year," Yao confirmed.

"We will evaluate Djordjevic's work, and the choice to go with a more international approach remains unchanged," he added.

Missing out on both the Tokyo and Paris Olympics, China are now pinning their hopes on the Los Angeles Games in 2028, for which Yao believes "big surgery" is needed.

"From the national team and the CBA league's reforms, to the entire youth training system, including the internationalization and integration of sports and education, this is a comprehensive overhaul that encompasses the entire basketball community," Yao said, adding "our research has just begun, and I don't want to hastily say how we should proceed."

"I can easily shout a slogan: 'I have confidence.' However, the key is what we are going to do. Our research report needs to form something that everyone agrees on and is feasible," he noted, saying that confidence should be driven by actions.

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