Yao Ming arrives in Manila for Friendship Games

Former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association team Shanghai Sharks, arrived in Manila Saturday night on board Philippine Airlines flight PR 337 for his team’s two-day Friendship Games against Gilas Pilipinas and a Philippine Basketball Association selection.

Joining the retired center in the goodwill tour are Sharks officials led by Vice GM Zhang Chi, executive assistant to GM Zhang Peizhong, Coach Wang Qun, Team Director Fei Genwei, Interpreter Guo Weisheng, Team Manager Fu Jiajun, and Asst. Director Yuan Qiang and players Liu Wei, Wang Yong, Wang Ligang, Meng Lingyuan, Liu Ziqiu, Zhang Zhaoxu, Cai Liang, Ge Yang, Wu Yang, Wang Sizhang, Zhai Yi and Zhang Yuan. The group arrived a day ahead of Yao.

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Yao was met by members of the Philippine sports media upon his arrival. He is scheduled to have a press conference at the Solaire Resort and Casino on Sunday morning.

A basketball clinic will also be conducted by the Sharks for less fortunate children at the Multi-Purpose Arena of the PSC-Philsports in Pasig City.  They will also pay a courtesy call on Vice President Jejomar Binay at his office at the Coconut Palace.

The Sharks will meet national coach Chot Reyes’ Gilas squad on May 6 at 730PM, at the SM MOA Arena.  The next day, they face the PBA All-Star Selection coached by Air21 mentor Franz Pumaren at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The games, backed by SM Mall of Asia Arena, Smart Araneta Coliseum, ATC Pharmaceuticals, Friends of the Philippines Foundation, Anchorland, Vikings and Oishi, will be telecast by TV 5.

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“This will be the start of friendly matches, clinics and other close interaction with powerhouse countries in sports.  Our national as well as the grassroots program will benefit from learning from the best,” said Philippine Commission chairman Richie Garcia, who signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Chinese Minister of Sport Liu Peng in Beijing on August 2011.

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