HONG KONG sports chief A. de O. Sales fired a broadside yesterday at individuals and national associations who have criticised his handling of the Asian Games selection process. After announcing a 151-strong contingent, comprising of 119 athletes and 32 officials, for October's Asian Games in Hiroshima, Sales dismissed claims that he has showed favouritism towards certain sports and also imposed unreasonably early deadlines on entries. He also lashed out at those who have called for the ASF & OC, made up of voluntary, elected staff, to hand over the application duties to a group of full-time professionals. ''I have heard these things being said for the last 40 years and still hear it being said around the world,'' said Sales. ''It is something the selectors expect and used by many people as a last resort. ''They only end up making a fool of themselves. Why don't these people come to me? We hear about what they have to say but they do not come to us.'' ''I think it is a very good Hong Kong squad - as good as any we can send.'' Sales was backed by Hong Kong Sports Institute director Paul Brettell, who along with Hong Kong's chef de mission Pang Chung, made up the Asian Games selection panel. ''I must say that the squad was picked under the closest of scrutiny and I think it is the best Hong Kong squad I have seen since I've been here,'' said Brettell, who next month leaves the institute for Australia after more than seven years in the territory. ''There will always be some debate from some people about who should be in. But there is no place in the world where there is no debate and you will be disappointed if there isn't any. ''We took a lot of time selecting the squad and I don't think any one sport has been favoured.'' Hong Kong will be represented in 17 sports in Hiroshima, from October 2-16, soccer, the only team sport, providing the biggest squad with 18 players and two officials. Tenpin bowling, one of many disciplines in which Hong Kong are expecting medals, are the next biggest with 12 athletes and three officials. Swimming (11 athletes), rowing (10), yachting (10 including two windsurfers) are the only other sports to reach double figures, while badminton (eight), table tennis (eight) and wushu (seven) are also sending substantial squads. The smallest team is equestrian, for whom Holly Griffiths is the sole competitor with Wendy Watkins as her coach. Track and field and fencing will be represented by five competitors each while canoeing, cycling, gymnastics, judo, karatedo and shooting all have four representatives. The squad, which has been in training for more than two years, will be hoping to better the results of Beijing 1990 when the territory won two silver medals and five bronze medals. Sales also challenged associations, some of whom missed out on the Games because of late entries, who were unhappy with the August 2 deadline for a final list of names and last year's October deadline for entry by sport. Said Sales: ''There is so much work to be done in the entry process. And anyway, there must be some sort of a deadline. ''There has been a lot of pressure from coaches to have more athletes. But we picked the athletes we thought were suitable. We are not going to make a fool of ourselves in the Games.'' Sales said selection was based on qualifying standards, which were cross-checked with international standards, training procedures and medical checks. Brettell also reiterated Sales' call for Hong Kong to improve the standard of team sports. ''The only disappointment is that Hong Kong still do not have team sports of sufficient calibre. And that is a pity. ''The accent from now on must be to improve the quality of team sports.'' Sales added that the government must be willing to put more money into the development of team sports. Windsurfer Lee Lai-shan, silver medallist in Beijing, remains the best hope for Hong Kong's first gold medal at the Asian Games since Catherine Che's triumph in the 1986 Seoul Games' tenpin bowling competition. Lee is the current world, Asian and European champion. But she will face tough competition from China. Chan Sau-ying will be hoping for a medal in the women's 100 metres hurdles after narrowly missing out on a bronze in Beijing. Hong Kong's men's foil team won a bronze in Beijing and are optimistic of their chances in Hiroshima. Rowing's Ho Kim-fai, the East Asian gold medallist, shooter Gilbert U, a clutch of swimmers and a handful of world-class wushu exponents are also favoured to be among the medals.