Calls for Kazlauskas's sacking by Chinese media have reached a crescendo in recent weeks after an abysmal campaign of practice matches against NBA and European club sides.

In the absence of Yao, China won just six of 17 games during a recent six-team tournament and tours of the United States and Europe.

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"Some media are like grass atop a wall swaying in the wind. When you win some games, they cheer for you, but when you lose, they go to the other side," Yao told China Daily.

"I have heard a lot of people speaking against (Kazlauskas), but I am sure he is a great man ... Of course he should stay and lead us to the Olympics."

As hosts, China qualify automatically for next August's Olympic tournament but their chances of advancing beyond the group stages have been downplayed by their own players.

"Problems are everywhere," former NBA player Wang Zhizhi told the same newspaper.

"I think we are miles behind the European teams overall ... I don't see any chance that we will be able to catch up in such a short time."

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