CHINA star Yi Jianlian blamed injuries sustained during the team’s "tough training camp" for its subpar play in a loss to South Korea in the Fiba-Asia Championships on Thursday.
Yi said that he has not fully recovered from hamstring and groin injuries sustained during a training camp ran by Greek coach Panagiotis Giannakis, who was described by Chinese media as a tough drillmaster.
“I can’t go a hundred percent especially on the defensive end,” said Yi during the postgame press conference. “I hope I can get better and contribute more to the team in the future."
Reports from the mainland media had said China players were not entirely happy with Giannakis' spartan training.
The 59-63 loss was actually China's second straight to the South Koreans, who also beat the mainlanders during the finals of the last East Asian Games.
“It was a tough training camp with a lot of players getting hurt. I got hurt also, my hamstring and my groin,” said Yi, who last played for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks last season.
Despite the injuries, Yi was still dominant on the floor as he came away with 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He also scored on dunks in the end game.
Yi said that China will definitely bounce back in their next two outings in Group C that includes games against Malaysia on Friday and Iran on Saturday.
“We were in a passive situation. We can’t make shots. Our percentage is quite low,” said Yi. “The most important right now is to stay focused, (and) keep getting better."