Yao Ming scored the team's highest 28 points but failed to help China avoid a 93-92 defeat by Australian Brisbane Bullets in the first of a two-leg friendly series on Friday.
Chinese NBA star Yao Ming (2nd-R) and Houston Rockets teammate Luther Head (R) watch a game during a promotional event for the 2007 Shanghai Special Olympics at the Shanghai Sports Institute July 6, 2007. Yao scored the team's highest 28 points but failed to help China avoid a 93-92 defeat by Australian Brisbane Bullets in the first of a two-leg friendly series on Friday. [Reuters]
Craig Bradshaw sunk 31 points for the visitors and CJ Bruton shot on the final buzzer to lead the Australian champions to the narrow victory in southern China's Guangdong Province.
The Chinese national team rushed to a 21-14 edge after the opening quarter and consolidated the ascendancy in the second, widening the gap to 43-33 by the half time, thanks to the overall advantage.
China rode on to a 62-51 lead three minutes before the third period ended, but was pulled back from then on as the Aussies enhanced aggression throughout the court.
With China's 68-67 lead, the game entered the fourth quarter, in which both sides played all-out, fighting for a command. Yao Ming scored a free throw to pull it even with 1'17" to go and Liu Wei shot a three-pointer, making it 92-91 in dying seconds.
However, Bruton denied China's third straight win against an Australian side this year with a jump shot from the free-throw line as the buzzer rang.
China clinched two victories in a row earlier this year against another Aussie squad, Melbourne Tigers.
The Chinese national team and the Bullets will play their second game on Sunday.