IF plans don’t miscarry, Yao Ming and his Shanghai Sharks will be visiting the country in May for an exhibition game against the Gilas Pilipinas squad to this year’s Fiba-Asia Championship.
The Philippine Sports Commission is drawing up the planned Sharks’ visit together with the Chinese Embassy as part of the two countries' memorandum of agreement for deeper cooperation in sports.
PSC chairman Richie Garcia said he will be meeting with PBA commissioner Chito Salud and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios on Tuesday to discuss the date of the event.
“I had a meeting with the consul of China and the Shanghai Sharks of Yao Ming are very much interested to make that visit around first week of May,” Garcia told Spin.ph.
Yao, now retired after playing for several years with the Houston Rockets, owns the team and was the Sharks’ star before his move to the NBA.
Garcia also said the Chinese icon will be joining the Sharks in the trip if the exhibition game pushes through.
“Pupunta si Yao Ming. Siya ang may gusto talaga na matuloy ito,” said Garcia.
Garcia is also hoping Gilas Pilipinas squad will be available to face the Sharks team as part of the national team’s preparation for the 2013 Fiba-Asia Championship which the country will be hosting.
“Ang proposal ko dito is this can be used as a tune-up game for Gilas,” Garcia added.
Aside from Yao, former Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas could join the trip as he is part of the team’s lineup although it is still unclear whether the Sharks will bring the same team that is currently playing in the Chinese Basketball Association.
The Sharks are also planning to hold a clinic during their trip.
The Sharks were set to play the exhibition game in Manila last year but it was postponed at the height of the controversy surrounding the Scarborough Shoal dispute.
“The Chinese Embassy has been campaigning for sports as a tool for friendship. Sports will be our vehicle for friendship,” Garcia said.