The Shanghai Sharks got a taste of the PBA's physical game after the Chinese club absorbed an 80-71 loss Tuesday night to conclude their two-game exhibition series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Thankfully, Yao Ming was not there to witness his team's second loss as the former NBA superstar left town earlier in the day, disappointing the crowd hoping to catch a glimpse of the 7-foot-6 Chinese basketball icon.
Rain or Shine bruiser Beau Belga used his brawn against the Sharks' 7-foot-3 center and one-time Chinese national team member Zhang Zhaoxu as he led the PBA selection with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Paul Lee, KG Canaleta and Arwind Santos also delivered for the locals who rallied from a nine-point second half deficit to hand the Sharks a winless stint in their two-game appearance in Manila.
Lee picked the pocket of Meng Lingyuan twice, buried a tying three and fed Arwind Santos for a 71-69 lead with 3:17 left to play.
Canaleta hit his third triple with 1:37 left in the payoff period, putting the PBA cagers up for good, 74-71 before Belga's putback off a Mike Cortez miss extended the lead to five to put the game away.
"Siguro pinairal lang namin ang pagka-Pilipino namin," said Belga. "Kung kapwa Pilipino nga nagpapatayan pa kami para manalo e sa ibang bansa pa."
A letdown, however, was the non-appearance of former Houston Rockets center and Sharks owner Yao Ming.
The 7-foot-6 Yao appeared during his club's 80-72 loss to Gilas Pilipinas at the Mall of Asia Arena on Monday but left for Beijing early Tuesday morning.
Fans were also dismayed also by the no-show of Sharks guard Liu Wei, who missed both games due to diarrhea.