PSC pulling all stops for Yao Ming’s team

The welcome mat has been prepared, the official luncheons and the dinners set up, the arrival ceremony and the hotel preparations nearly finished.

These are not for a visiting head of state though. It's for the Shanghai Sharks, the Chinese basketball team owned by former NBA star Yao Ming who will be here next month for a two-game goodwill series.

This will be one of the PSC's biggest activities under chairman Ricardo Garcia and PSC executive director Guillermo Iroy said the entire machinery of the sports agency is being harnessed for the visit.

Iroy said he has never seen his boss work so hard as Garcia is hands on with every phase of the preparations including where to get the giant bed for the 7-foot-4 Yao Ming who will head the delegation.

''He seemed to have lost weight and on some days, looks tired,'' Iroy said of Garcia.

It also did not help that the two of them just arrived from a rigorous four-nation trip recently that brought them to Argentina, Brazil, Spain and the US looking for Filipino talents for the national team.

''We were practically in the air for four days,'' said Iroy of the three-week trip.

Even Yao Ming's desire to play a round of golf is being meticulously attended to with Garcia, a golf enthusiast, looking eagerly for this part of the visit to see how the ex-Chinese NBA star has progressed in his new sport.

The game is likely to be held at the Manila Golf Club where Garcia is a member.
But basketball, certainly, is on top of the agenda.

The trip was arranged under a bilateral agreement with the Chinese sports ministry and Garcia, who has been heavily involved in harnessing the country's relations with nations that it has previous working agreements, said the arrival of the Sharks here is a testament to the strong ties between the Philippines and China.

''The Philippines and China have been working hand in hand in fostering strong relations,'' said Garcia.

On May 6, the Sharks will clash with Gilas at the Mall of Asia Arena and the following day, it will be the turn of a PBA selection to test the mettle of the stratospheric Chinese.

The PSC believes these games will play a key role in the buildup of Gilas in its quest to make a dent in the FIBA-Asia that will be hosted by the country in August.

Included in the Sharks roster are Chinese team mainstays Liu Wei and Zhang Zhauzu and even Taiwanese ace Tseng Wen Ting.

Tickets to the two games are available on all SM Malls and these are priced at P2,640 (VIP), P1,320 (Patron), P1,060 (Lower Box), P800 (Upper Box) and P320 (General Admission).

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