Olmin Leyba | Updated Saturday March 09, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Arrangements are being made for the visit of Chinese superstar Yao Ming and his ballclub, the Shanghai Sharks, to play exhibition matches against Gilas Pilipinas and a Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) selection.
According to Philippine Sports Commissioner chairman Richie Garcia, Yao himself is personally communicating with the agency for the games slated May 6-7 at the MOA Arena.
"Through an exchange of emails, they (Yao and Chinese officials) have confirmed they will play against Gilas and PBA selection. We will finalize things in the coming weeks," said Garcia.
The PSC chief said the Sharks' visit is in line with the memorandum of understanding on sports cooperation forged between Phl and China. The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and the PBA have also thrown in their support in the activity.
Initial plans will have Yao and the Sharks arriving on May 3 with a number of engagements on tap, including basketball clinics and community service in the Chinese community, prior to the two games.
The Sharks, champions in the Chinese Basketball Association in the 2001-02 season, are expected to provide Gilas a solid tuneup for their coming bid at the Fiba Asia Men's Championship Phl is hosting in August, especially with London Olympics veterans Liu Wei and Zhang Zhaoxu in tow.
"There are members of the Chinese national team playing for the Shanghai Sharks so this will be a good opportunity for Gilas to gauge them," said Garcia.
Yao will come over in his capacity as president of the club and is not really expected to play. Former NBA player Gilbert Arenas is in the Sharks lineup but it's not clear yet whether "Agent 0" will join their Manila foray.