BEIJING (AP) An emotional Yao Ming scored 25 points to lead China to a dramatic 59-55 win against Dirk Nowitzki and Germany as the Olympic hosts moved a step closer to the medal round in men's basketball.
The Houston Rockets center posted the game's first four points and was the emotional leader in the he pivotal contest, constantly chest bumping teammates and encouraging teammates with high-fives. Yi Jianlian of the New Jersey Nets added nine points and pulled down 11 rebounds for China (2-2).
The players celebrated the victory at midcourt as if they had won a medal.
"I'm very happy for the players. It was a difficult game psychologically. We played at home and had to win," China's Lithuainian-born coach Jonas Kazlauskas said.
Kazlauskas said China's defense and Yao's inside dominance game was the difference in the game. He also praised the performance of guard Sun Yue, who finished with five points and five rebounds.
"I know that the next game we will play without pressure. The main thing is to get a good rest," Kazlauskas said.
The win puts China in the medal round for the second straight Olympics, although Yi said four years had made a huge difference.
"Technically, we feel more confident. Before we were losing by 20 or 30 points each match, but it's much better now," Yi said. "We fought hard to the end. Now we need to keep pushing ahead."
Nowitzki, of the Dallas Mavericks, finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds. Germany fell to 1-3 in Nowitzki's first Olympic appearance.
Germany coach Dirk Bauermann said he thought the game could have gone either way, but that China deserved to win.
"They were just a little bit better defensively than we were and they made the big shots," Bauermann said.
In other games Saturday San Antonio Spurs' guard Manu Ginobili scored 32 points to lead defending Olympic champion Argentina to a 97-82 victory against Iran. Houston Rockets forward Luis Scola added 20 points to help Argentina improve to 3-1 in the Beijing games tournament. Center Hamed Ehadadi led Iran with 21 points.
Mindaugas Lukauskis scored 20 points to lead Lithuania to an 86-73 victory against Croatia. Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut had 22 points as Australia beat European champion Russia 95-80. Ioannis Bourousis scored 22 points in Greece's 102-61 rout of Angola.