HOUSTON, Texas — Chinese star center Yao Ming, limited by doctors to only 24 minutes a game for the NBA's Houston Rockets, is confident he might be freed from a ban on playing back-to-back nights by January.
Medical experts placed the limits upon the 2.26-metre giant are aimed at keeping Yao's surgically repaired left foot from breaking as it has repeatedly in his NBA career, the latest such injury keeping him out all of last season.
"I cannot play back-to-backs, at least not until January," Yao told reporters on Tuesday as the Rockets, 1-5, prepared to begin a three-game road trip at Washington, where Chinese standout Yi Jianlian plays.
"We need a consistent lineup. Right now we have multiple injuries."
The Rockets were expected to be a Western Conference contender but have struggled with injuries.
Yao said he was told by doctors that if he stays healthy, he might see action in games on consecutive nights in January.
"That's what I heard from the doctors before I came back to play, that I could possibly play back-to-backs in January if there is nothing going wrong in the first two months of the season," Yao said.
Houston television station KRIV reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources, that Yao is progressing much better than anticipated and might have his minutes per game limit and clearance for back-to-back games come earlier than January.
Yao is averaging 12.8 points and 6.5 rebounds in 21 minutes a game but says that his limited status is not good for the Rockets overall.
"With a guy who is a starting center on and off, on and off, I think that's not good for the team," Yao said. "That's why I think playing back-to-backs for me and for (my) teammates is very important."
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »