The most important thing for the Chinese men's basketball team is to rebuild their image in the hearts of fans, according to captain Yi Jianlian.
"It has been a long recovery for me, and there are different things to do in each phase that can't be easily measured by numbers," said Yi, who suffered an Achilles tendon injury in the past year and is now able to participate in confrontational training after being listed in 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers squad. "I am feeling better and performing better in training. I will keep adjusting myself."
Yi has never missed an Olympics since making his debut, but now it seems tough for him to keep the record as China has to compete with other powerful contenders from Europe and North America in the upcoming Olympic qualifying tournament for a spot at Tokyo Olympics.
"Our fans always expect good results from us," said Yi. "We will give everything we have to fight for the good results and hopefully it will rebuild our image in the hearts of fans."
As one of the most experienced players on the team, Yi admitted that preparing for the Olympic qualifying tournament has been more difficult than ever. This will be the first competition abroad since 2019. There is only a two-week training camp to get them prepared for the event.
"We could only imagine how difficult it might be," said Yi. "The key point is to improve ourselves to the best through training and prepare for the games with a good mindset."