Sports/Olympics / En_Sports_Olympics

Yao Ming validates his all-star accolades
by AFP
Updated: 2006-03-18 10:06

HOUSTON, United States (AFP) - There are a lot of people who feel Yao Ming's all-star hopes hinge on an internet voting frenzy orchestrated by his loyal compatriots in China.

But the 25-year-old Yao's recent performances have silenced his critics and validated his selection as the starting all-star centre ahead of Shaquille O'Neal.

"This is the best I have seen him play since he's been in the league," Yao's Houston Rockets teammate Jason Terry said. "He is playing like a beast."

Yao, who was the top vote getter for last month's National Basketball Association All-Star Game in Houston, is considered one of the most dominant players in the game.

And in five of his past six games, Yao has scored 30 or more points and averaged a superb 32.8 points and 11.2 rebounds.

The Rockets steam towards the playoffs without their other star Tracy McGrady, who could miss the remainder of the regular season because of a back injury.

The Shanghai-born Yao is helping fill the void but he's going to need some help from his teammates.

While Yao has shot 56 percent in the last three games his teammates have combined to shoot just 33 percent over the same period.