The Chinese won their biggest game in basketball history Saturday, beating Germany 59-55 to advance to the semifinal round of the Olympics. As the host country, that was their goal heading into the Games, and they accomplished it despite doubts they could get out of the “Group of Death” that includes the USA, Spain, Greece and Germany.
(Click here for more photos from the game)
The pressure was immense leading up to the game because if China had lost, they most likely wouldn’t have advanced, and the Olympics for them would have been considered a failure.
“It was difficult psychologically for us,” said China coach Jonas Kazlauskas. “We were playing at home and we just cannot lose this game.”
The Beijing crowd did a fantastic job yelling and screaming for its team on every rebound, free throw, and anything positive its team did.
Just like they did against Spain a couple of games ago, China blew another big 4th quarter lead. They led by 13 points with 6 ½ minutes remaining in the game, but Dirk Nowitzki and Pascal Roller brought them back with a flurry of points.
However, with the Germans relying on Nowtizki to do most of the work, he ended up making a couple of mistakes late that hurt Germany’s chances. He was called for traveling with 2:30 remaining, and with 40 seconds remaining he charged into Yao Ming for an offensive foul.
On the ensuing possession with China only up 56-55, Yi Jianlian hit the biggest shot of his life, nailing a jumper with one foot inside the 3-point line to give China a 58-55 lead, sending Yao Ming and the Chinese crowd into even more of a frenzy. Although Yao was tired, he and Yi jumped into the air together to bump chests to celebrate that huge bucket.
Notwitzki had a chance to tie the game with a wide open 3-pointer (incredible that he was left wide open), and luckily for the Chinese he missed. Yao grabbed the rebound, was fouled, and hit 1-of-2 free throws with 18.8 seconds remaining to make it 59-55. The Chinese sealed the win after stealing the ball from Germany as they brought it up the court, starting the party inside Wukesong Indoor Stadium.
After the final horn blew, Yao Ming and his teammates all met at midcourt and danced around in a circle “Argentina style.”
Yao hit some big shots in the fourth quarter on his way to scoring 25 of China’s 59 points on 9-of-19 field goals. He also grabbed 11 rebounds, had 2 assists, 1 block, and turned the ball over only 2 times. Playing 34 minutes of the game’s 40 minutes, Yao was noticeably tired, but he gutted it out to propel his team to the win.
China got off to a hot start, leading 19-9 at the end of the first quarter, but Germany came back strong to lead 31-27 by halftime. Although Germany was only 8-of-33 from the floor at the half, they made up for it by hitting 12-of-12 from the free throw line.
But China roared back in the third quarter, scoring 8 points in a row after halftime to take a 35-31 lead. They led 47-39 after 3 quarters, outscoring Gamany 20-8 in the third before holding on for the victory down the stretch.
You’ve got to check out the photos in the forum of all the celebration that Raymond has posted. I watched the game and got chills down my spine for Yao as he pumped his fist and encouraged his teammates with intensity after every good play.
You can check out the game’s boxscore here.