Yao Ming Visits Manila To Settle China-Philippines Dispute; Goodwill Basketball Games To Take Place In May
China and the Philippines are bringing their disputes into the hardfloor. The two countries who have been on a heated discord over the past year will be facing each other again, but this time it will be in a basketball game.
Two "friendly" matches are scheduled to take place in Manila next month between China and the Philippines. Taking place on May 6th and 7th, the Philippines will be fielding-in two men's teams against China's Shanghai Sharks. Facing the Yao Ming-owned team will be the Philippine men's national team, Gilas Pilipinas (team), and a selection of Philippine Basketball Association players.
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Branded as "goodwill games," the two-day basketball event is aimed at helping bridge the gap between the two countries. Over the past months, tensions have been arising between the two over the ownership of the Scarborough shoal. Strengthening its disputes, the Philippine government has elevated its claims over the land to an international tribunal.
"It's exciting that we can play a role in that, if indeed it's important in the overall scheme of things. That's why the PBA and Gilas really went out of their way to play in spite of it being right smack in the middle of the (PBA) semifinals," explained Gilas Pilipinas head coach, Chot Reyes, in a Wall Street Journal report.
According to Reyes, the games are not part of the Philippine national team's FIBA Asia basketball tournament preparations. The Philippines will play host to the international event for the first time since 1973.
As for facing the Shanghai Sharks, Philippines Sports Commissioner, Jose Luis Gomez, said the country is excited for the games and is looking forward to strengthen its ties with China.
"We are very excited to share knowledge with China regards to the different sports. The game with Shanghai Sharks is a part of our long-term relationship as a result of our visit to China. Shanghai Sharks is a very good team," Gomez said in the same WSJ report.
Former NBA star, Yao Ming, will also be conducting a basketball clinic to promote goodwill between China and the Philippines.