YAO Ming admitted China was “pushed to the limit” by the Philippines before winning the right to host the 2019 Fiba Basketball World Cup on Friday in Tokyo, Japan.
The former NBA star said China is excited to host the basketball spectacle four years from now after beating the Philippines, 14-7, in a vote by the powerful Fiba Central Board.
Yao, who played in the NBA for the Houston Rockets, admitted the win was in no way easy as the bid of the Philippines brought out the best in them.
“It’s such an exciting moment to bring the 2019 Fiba Basketball World Cup to China and I’m sure that millions of fans are sharing this joy with us,” said Yao.
China banked on its experience in hosting big sports events like the 2008 Olympics as well as its great infrastructure to beat the Philippines, which anchored its bid on the Filipinos' passion for the sport and social media savvy.
“We have to pay tribute to the Philippines delegation. They were great opponents. Only opponents like them could really push us to our limits to test how capable we are,” said Yao.
“Even if we were opponents on this occasion, we still have a friendship with them,” Yao added.
Yao said it will be a thrill for Chinese fans to host the Fiba World Cup.
“I know what it’s like to play a top level basketball tournament in front of home fans because I played at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Having the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup will inspire a lot of people and particularly more young athletes to participate in basketball,” Yao added.