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Yao looking forward to China's Olympic future

Yao Ming believes his teammates on the Chinese national team need to get stronger and smarter in order to compete for a medal at the 2008 Olympics, though he wouldn't go so far as to endorse the solution offered by Del Harris.

Harris, who coached China to an eighth-place finish at the Athens Olympics, said the Chinese basketball federation needs to allow its best players to compete in the European Leagues over the next four years to prepare for the level of competition they'll face in the Olympics.

The matter is a touchy subject in China, with the national federation eager to improve the country's standing in international basketball but not wanting to dilute the quality of the Chinese Basketball Association.

Given a chance Tuesday to agree or disagree with Harris, Yao took a diplomatic stance.

"The CBA is thinking of ways to deal with that so that everyone is happy," the 7-foot-6 center said during an interview to promote his autobiography: Yao: A Life in Two Worlds.

"The thing we need to change the most right now is a lot of players play too casually. It's a bad habit," Yao said. "It was something you could see a lot of times. Next to scoring as the highest statistic on a player's line would be turnovers, not rebounds or assists."

China matched its best Olympic finish by coming in eighth at the Athens Games, the highlight a one-point victory over the defending world champions from Serbia-Montenegro in the final game of the opening round _ a win that Harris called the most rewarding of his 45-year coaching career.

Yao said that victory meant even more to him than carrying his country's flag in the opening ceremony of the Athens Games because it was an honor he had earned rather than had bestowed upon him.

China won 63 medals in Athens, finishing third behind the U.S. and Russia, and plans a stronger showing at the 2008 Olympics.

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