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Chinese big headed, reliant on Yao - team official

BEIJING (Reuters) - China failed to win the Asian basketball title because the team had become too big-headed after last year’s Beijing Olympics and over-reliant on the leadership of Yao Ming, an official told state media.

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming in Los Angeles, May 17, 2009. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok/Files

Playing without injured Houston Rockets center Yao, China were easily defeated by a lively Iran team in the final of the continental championship in Tianjin earlier this month, causing consternation in the basketball-mad country.

“The loss at the Asian Championships was not an accident. It was an alarm which made us aware of the crisis,” China Basketball Association vice director Hu Jiashi told Friday’s People’s Daily.

Hu highlighted seven main reasons for China’s dismal defeat.

“The first problem is some of the players became complacent after the Olympics,” he told the paper. “They have developed an arrogant and spoiled attitude.”

With Yao, China finished eighth on home soil at last August’s Olympics, which was considered a good result.

Hu also highlighted the lack of awareness of the improvement in their rivals -- particularly teams from West Asia and the Middle East -- inconsistency, low morale, injuries and poor quality training before the championships.

New Jersey Nets forward Yi Jianlian came in for criticism for his performance in the final and Hu said a major problem was the lack of another leader in the team to replace Yao, who could miss the whole of the next NBA season after foot surgery.

“We have been used to rely on Yao Ming especially at the critical moments,” he said. “We lack another spiritual leader like Yao.

“Now we have found out what the problems are but the key point is how to solve them,” Hu added. “Especially at the World Championships next year, when Yao Ming will still be unable to play, we will face worse difficulties and tougher situations.”

China’s second place at the Asia championships secured them a place at next year’s world championships in Turkey.