The scheduled exhibition match between a PBA selection and the Shanghai Sharks has been shelved upon the request of the Chinese club team, according to the Philippine Sports Commission.
A PBA selection to be coached by B-Meg head mentor Tim Cone was scheduled to play the Sharks, owned by former NBA star Yao Ming, on June 28 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
But PSC chairman Ricardo Garcia said that the Shanghai Sharks, in a letter from vice general manager Andy Qian, have requested to move the exhibition game to a later date as several players are still processing their passports.
“It will take four to five weeks for some members of the delegation to process their passports,” said Garcia. “They can’t meet the deadline, which is the end of the month, so they are requesting to reschedule the game.
"Kapag okay na ‘yung mga papeles nila, they will confirm.”
The exhibition game was arranged under a memorandum of understanding signed by the PSC and the China sports minister last year that called for deeper cooperation between the two sports bodies.
News about the match had raised hope among local fans that the now-retired Yao would be joining the trip.
The former Houston Rockets center purchased the Sharks, his former team before moving to the NBA, after the team fell into hard times in 2009.
Before he was drafted by the Rockets, Yao helped the Sharks win the Chinese Basketball Aassociation crown in the 2001-02 season.
A high-ranking PSC source, however, believes the exhibition match will be cancelled altogether, laying the blame on the simmering dispute between China and the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal.
“I won’t be surprised if hindi na matuloy ‘yung Shanghai Sharks dahil sa political crisis,” said the source, who requested not to be named because he was not in a position to speak for the government sports agency.
The PSC and China's sports ministry remain in touch, although the PSC source admitted that communication has 'slowed down' even since the dispute erupted.
“We can’t really blame them because it’s a sensitive issue,” said the source.
Garcia, however, assured that the relationship with China remains healthy. In fact, the government sports agency is set to meet with officials from Beijing Sports University on June 9, he added.