Malacanang said on Friday that the planned exhibition match between a selection of stars from the PBA and the Shanghai Sharks, a Chinese basketball team co-owned by former NBA superstar Yao Ming, is a “gesture of goodwill” between China and the Philippines, amid tension between the two countries over a standoff in the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
“A goodwill game is certainly one way of fostering better relations with the Chinese. It shows the multi-faceted relationship we have with China,” wrote Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a text message to News5.
“Since the goodwill game is still in the planning stage, it is too early comment, but we certainly welcome the basketball game as a gesture of goodwill between the two countries.”
The PBA announced that it will form a 16-man selection coached by B-MEG’s Tim Cone to play against the Sharks at the newly-built SM Mall of Asia Arena on June 28.
The Sharks’ trip was brokered by the Philippine Sports Commission and the Department of Foreign Affairs, who met with officials of Shanghai and the Chinese Embassy in Manila. The event is part of the Memorandum of Agreement signed by the PSC with China’s sports minister Liu Peng last year for further cooperation.
PSC chairman Richie Garcia said it’s a sign of the Philippines’ “healthy” relationship with China.
“Walang issues on political dito, this is just sports. Galing sa puso nila talaga to help. Ang relasyon natin sa China is healthy,” he said.
“The government is behind this. This can be a bridge to make the two countries talk”