A selection of PBA stars with B-MEG coach Tim Cone at the helm will welcome the Chinese Basketball Association’s Shanghai Sharks, a team co-owned by former NBA superstar Yao Ming, in a friendly game at the newly-built SM Mall of Asia Arena on June 28.
PBA operations manager Rickie Santos confirmed the news to InterAKTV, adding that PBA selection would be composed of 16 players.
Reports of a possible Sharks trip to Manila have abound since March, when representatives from the Philippine Sports Commission and the Department of Foreign Affairs met with Shanghai vice general manager Qian Anke and team leader Wang Qun along with officials of the Chinese Embassy in Manila to set up details of the visit. The trip is part of the Memorandum of Agreement signed by the PSC with China’s sports minister Liu Peng last year for further cooperation.
Santos said the original plan was to hold two games, on June 29 and 30, but the PBA declined because it had scheduled matches on those days.
News of a basketball team from China’s visit to the Philippines comes as welcome development, considering the two countries are in the midst of a standoff over Scarborough Shoal, leading to increased tension between them.
Earlier, a planned friendly match on June 12 between the Philippine national men’s football team and its counterpart from China did not push through, but Philippine Football Federation president Nonong Araneta said that it was not related to the Scarborough issue. The Azkals, instead, are playing against Guam on Independence Day.
The Sharks’ trip is reportedly part of the Memorandum of Agreement signed by the PSC with China’s sports minister Liu Peng last year for further cooperation.
The Sharks are one of the most successful teams in the CBA, having captured the regular season and playoff titles in the 2001-2002.
Shanghai was also the ball club of Yao before he made a jump in the NBA with the Houston Rockets in 2002. Yao bought into the franchise in the 2009 after the team suffered financial issues.
It is unclear, however, if Yao is going to make the June trip.
Offers for PBA
But the Sharks aren’t the only squad looking to see action in the Philippines. A New Zealand club team has expressed its desire to play in a regular PBA tournament.
PBA commissioner Chito Salud, however, is cool to the idea.
“We don’t even have an invitational tournament, so I don’t think that’s possible,” he said.