by Alan Paul

The Olympics Basketball Arena erupted into pandemonium when China defeated Germany 59-55, virtually guaranteeing their advancement to the medal round (Germany would have to beat Team USA to keep China out). The packed arena knew what was on the line and cheered passionately throughout the game, celebrating hard as China cruised through the second half, seemingly on their way to victory.

The energy began to seep out of the building as Germany stormed back in the final minutes and China seemed on the verge of collapsing, much as they did against Spain last Tuesday. But after five straight empty possessions, Yao Ming hit a short jumper to stop the bleeding, pulling the audience back in with force. Minutes later, as the clock ticked down, with China holding the ball and a one point lead, future Laker Sun Yue drove the lane and kicked back to Yi Jianlin, who nailed the long two.

“That was the biggest shot of my life,” Yi said afterwards.

When he hit the shot, the arena exploded into a flag-waving, cheering frenzy that didn’t abate after the team walked off the court, continuing for 10 minutes. Later, when Yi walked into the press conference, he was met with cheers from the Chinese press, who applauded again when he stood up to walk out after answering a few questions.

With the medal round in sight, China will have to refocus on a new goal. The basketball tournament is sure to remain more exciting for all involved with China’s continued involvement.

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I covered the Redeem Team’s demolition of Spain and wrote a column about it. This was a lot of fun. Just an overwhelming performance.

This Spanish “slant eyed” controversy and lack of controversy has been really interesting.

The first Chinese player to play college basketball in the United States thinks Team USA has the gold medal in the bag. Check it out.