Day 2 Men: CHN 69 - NZL 62
Yao Ming back on song for China
ATHENS (Olympics) - Yao Ming banished any thoughts over his possible retirement from international basketball with a monster performance to lead China past New Zealand.
Yao, the Houston Rockets centre, was so frustrated after his performance in Sunday's 83-58 defeat to Spain - he was four of 11 and scored just 12 points - that he hinted his days were numbered with China.
Yao was even booed by the fans when he got into an altercation with one of the Spanish players.
In the post-match press conference, he was more upbeat but his initial remarks were carried in some of the world media.
Against the Kiwis, he was a one-man wrecking crew with 39 points on 15 of 20 shooting from the field and nine of 13 from the line as China won 69-62.
"He is not going to retire," China's American coach Del Harris said after the victory.
"When you interview a player right after a very bad performance, not giving him the time to rest a bit, he might say something he doesn't really mean.
"About the rest, you can't put the pressure of a whole nation to Yao and then expect him not to be emotional. He's a human being after all."
China led from start to finish and their advantage reached 13 early in the second half.
The Tall Blacks pulled to within two with four minutes left in the third after a steal and layup by point guard Mark Dickel.
But a three-point play by Yao, followed by five more consecutive points from the 7ft 5in centre, stretched the lead back to 10.
In the fourth quarter, New Zealand closed to within three on a Phill Jones fastbreak with 6:30 remaining, but they would get no closer.
"I'm proud of the way my players responded to the pressure," Harris said. "We won and preserved our chances to reach the final eight against a team that finished fourth at the last World Championships ... our team is better than it appeared to be in the first game."
From Jeff Taylor, PA International, Athens