MANILA, Philippines – Former NBA All-Star center Yao Ming hopes that a Filipino basketball team can one day travel to China to showcase its unique Filipino brand of basketball to the Chinese.
Yao and his team, the Shanghai Sharks, are in Manila to play a couple of goodwill games against the Gilas Pilipinas National Team and a PBA selection.
During a courtesy call on Vice President Jejomar Binay earlier Monday, Yao said basketball has grown to be very popular in China in the past 20 to 30 years.
“Everybody loves the game, and we hope to further exchange our friendly relations through this game,” Yao said. “Thank you again for granting us this opportunity for coming here to attend this game.”
“We hope in the future, we can have (a) Philippine basketball (team) come to Shanghai to let the Chinese people experience the Philippine style of playing this game,” he added.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Ricardo Garcia, for his part, shared Yao’s vision.
“Hopefully, the suggestion of Mr. Yao Ming, we might be able to send our Philippine team to Shanghai,” Garcia said.
He also hopes the Sharks will not be the last Chinese team to visit the country.
“This is just the beginning of many more teams visiting the Philippines. We’re talking about the football team, the volleyball team,” Garcia said.
“It is our belief that through sports, we can be one, China and the Philippines. And maybe, we should forget some of our political problems, because in sports, there is no political difference,” he added.
Yao’s Sharks will take on the Gilas Pilipinas national team on Monday night and a selection of PBA players on Tuesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.