MANILA, Philippines - Nine-year NBA veteran Yao Ming and the Shanghai Sharks will arrive May 3 for a series of clinics for street kids and exhibition games against Smart Gilas Pilipinas II and a PBA selection team.
“It’s confirmed, they’re all coming,” said Lauro Domingo of the organizing group putting up the six-day Philippines-China Friendship Games.
Yao and the Sharks will be part of the 48-man delegation that also includes top officials of the China Sports Ministry, the counterpart of the Philippine Sports Commission which is spearheading the project.
Domingo said the 7-6 Yao, an eight-time NBA All-Star who also owns the Sharks, is toying with the idea of suiting up in the matches to generate fan interest as well funds that will be used to bankroll the local athletes’ training and preparation for international events like the Southeast Asian Games.
“The PSC is directly coordinating with Mr. Yao Ming and his group since they own the Shanghai Sharks. In our talks, he really likes the idea of playing in the exhibition games,” said Domingo.
However, the other former NBA star Gilbert Arenas, who was with the Sharks’ line up in the Chinese Basketball Association’s last season, will not play in the game since his contract has expired just last month.
The delegation is slated to arrive on May 3 and will hold a basketball clinic for street kids from Metro Manila at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium two days later.
Yao and the Sharks will then take on the Chot Reyes-mentored Smart Gilas Pilipinas II at the MOA Arena at 7 p.m. on May 6 and then a PBA selection team the day later at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The group is set to leave on May 8.
Domingo said they will tap referees from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas since the rules that will be applied are those of FIBA.
The pair of exhibition games will be held one day after the PBA All-Star Weekend in Digos, Davao del Sur from May 1-5.
While Gilas is expected to field in the same roster of the PBA All-Star, the same could not be said of the PBA selection although it has already released its All-Star lineup headed by San Mig Coffee’s James Yap and Barangay Ginebra’s Mark Caguioa.