NBA All-star center Yao Ming thought the China has made considerable improvement at the World Men's Basketball Championship although the Asian champions lost to the United States by 31 points here on Sunday.
This was China's second defeat at the championships following their 84-69 loss to Italy one day before.
"Our performance in this match is totally out of my expectation, " said Yao Ming, who contributed 21 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks for China before fouled out halfway in the fourth quarter. "I think we played very well today.
"We watched video tapes of our last game and we have learned how to pick and roll and how to make open opportunities for our shooters in 24 hours," he added. "And then we went out to exert what we had learned in the game against the best team in the world,
"It's not just technical thing, it's more about confidence and courage. Because of that, I am proud of our team."
The Chinese shot 13-for-31 from beyond the arc, compared with 4-for-11 the night before in the game against Italy when Yao scored 30 points.
In Sunday's match, China trailed 93-62 after three quarters, but Yao still asked his coach to put him on the court and he fought hard before being ejected with five fouls. After that, Yao cheered loudly for his teammates on the bench.
"Yes, I want to play and we want to hold on as hardly as we can, " he said.
Trailing 63-38 at the half time, Wang Shipeng had eight points in a row and Yao Ming added two in the opening of the third quarter to cut their deficit to 63-48, only to see the United States surge away again with a 25-8 run.
American head coach Mike Krzyzewski admitted the courage Chinese players showed in the second half was impressive.
Despite the opening losses, Yao's determination to lead China to the elimination round remained untouched.
"We have to fight, and if we go out fighting like we did in today's match, nothing is impossible," Yao said.
China, who was now at the bottom of Group D with a 0-2 record, will play Puerto Rico, Senegal and Slovenia in the remaining round-robin preliminaries with top finishers from the group to advance to the top 16.