MANILA, Philippines – Two-time MVP awardee Willie Miller and key players of Rain or Shine, Petron Blaze, Air21 and Barako Bull compose the PBA selection that will be pitted with the Shanghai Sharks in an exhibition match on May 7 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It’s a guard-heavy PBA team that includes RoS backcourt players Paul Lee and Chris Tiu, Petron chief playmaker Alex Cabagnot and Air21 ace point guard Mike Cortez.
Beau Belga, Arwind Santos, KG Canaleta, Doug Kramer and Marcio Lassiter make up the frontcourt of the local selection that tests its mettle against the Yao Ming-owned Shanghai squad.
Franz Pumaren, a former national mainstay and longtime PBA player who now coaches Air21, calls the shots for the PBA team.
Among the leading teams in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), the Sharks will come over for a two-game goodwill series as arranged by the Chinese sports authority and the Philippine Sports Commission.
The Sharks and Gilas Pilipinas tangle in the first game on May 6 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Coach Chot Reyes is fielding only Gilas players who are already free from their commitment with their home teams in the local pro league. They will be backed by Gilas cadet players and naturalized player Marcus Douthit.
Former NBA star Gilbert Arenas is part of Shanghai’s regular lineup in the CBA but it’s doubtful whether he’s coming over to Manila.
The Shanghai club is best known as the team that developed Yao Ming before he entered the NBA.
With the 7-foot-6 Yao on the team, the Sharks made the CBA finals three years in a row (in 1999–2000, 2000–2001, 2001–2002), facing the Bayi Rockets each time. They were runners-up the first two years, but won the CBA championship for the first time on their third try, snapping a string of six Bayi Rockets championships in a row.
The Beijing All Stars and the Liaoning club were previous Manila visitors from the CBA.
The Sharks will be in Manila for six days, going on a mall tours and holding a basketball clinic at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium on May 5.
Among the notable Shanghai players are Liu Wei and Zhang Zhaoxu, who are both members of the Chinese national basketball squad, and Taiwanese superstar Tseng Wen-ting.