Center Yao Ming scored 39 points tolead China to a 69-62 victory
over New Zeland on Tuesday in the group stage of the men's
basketball event of the Athens Olympics.
The victory threw a lifeline to China which had to beat New
Zealand to keep alive their hopes of making the quarterfinals of
In the presence of towering center Yao, China seemed to be a big
mountain hard for New Zealand to scale.
Yao Ming, who stands at 2.26-m tall, was the go-to guy in the
first period for China, using his air advantage to score 10
pointsin the first period.
Building its tactics around Yao, China also organised a sound
defense, forcing New Zealand to rely on three-pointers to keep
themsleve in the game.
New Zealand had to take the B plan to mark Yao with more
players, only to leave space for other Chinese players to
New Zealand also tried to minimize the threat of Yao by
keepinghim out of the paint, but Yao still managed to get six
points in the second period and inspired China to a 29-20 halftime
New Zealand, thanks to their merit in scoring three points,
bursted into a 12-2 run in the third period, threatening to level
the tie for the first time in the game.
But Yao continued to be the major difference between China and
New Zealand, contributing 21 points in the third period and
remained the leading scorer on the field.
But China had yet to pull away clear as they led only 51-45
after the third period with New Zealand continuing to turn on
pressure in the last period.
With 16.9 seconds remaining, China only led by four points, but
China managed to hold back the charge by New Zealand and won by
(Xinhua News Agency August 17, 2004)