Yao Ming to grace Merlion Cup
Yao Ming to grace tournament as president of Shanghai Sharks
Former Houston Rockets centre Yao Ming, arguably the biggest fish in the sea of Asian basketball, will be in town as president of the Shanghai Sharks when they play in the Merlion Cup from Sept 21 to 25 at the OCBC Arena.
The New Paper can reveal, after obtaining an official copy of the 28-man Shanghai Sharks delegation list, that the 35-year-old will touch down in Singapore on Sept 20.
He will observe his team in the first half of the tournament, before flying off on Sept 23 due to other commitments.
This will be Yao's second visit after making an appearance here in June last year as global ambassador for China Life Insurance.
Before he established the Ming dynasty in the NBA, Yao had honed his skills with the Sharks from 1997 to 2002, winning the China Basketball Association title, before the 2.29-metre superstar became the first Chinese player to be picked in the 2002 NBA draft.
Affectionately known as The Great Wall, he then spent a decade (2002 to 2011) with the Rockets, during which he became known for his strength around the basket and his soft shooting touch as he averaged 19 points, nine rebounds and two blocks per NBA game.
This April, the eight-time NBA All-Star became the first Chinese player to be inducted into its Hall of Fame.
In 2009, Yao bought over the Shanghai Sharks and he will be expecting a strong performance from his team at the Merlion Cup, which is making a return after a 20-year hiatus.
Two imports stand out from their 13-player Merlion Cup roster, with 27-year-old American guard Jimmer Fredette having played for the NBA's Sacramento Kings, Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans and the New York Knicks.
French power forward, 20-year-old Guerschon Yabusele, was drafted with the 16th overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics before signing for the Sharks.
Drawn into Group A, they should be favourites against Taiwan's Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor and the Singapore Slingers, while Malaysia Dragons, Mighty Sports (Philippines) and Seoul Samsung Thunders (South Korea) are in Group B.
Concession tickets at $10 each are available to those with a local student pass or senior citizen card.
Season passes are priced at $75 each, while standard tickets cost $15 for weekdays and $20 for weekends.
Courtside tickets are also available for $50 each on weekdays and $60 on weekends.
The public can purchase Merlion Cup tickets online at www.sportshubtix.sg or via phone booking at +65 31587888.
Operation hours are 10am to 8pm from Mondays to Saturdays, and 12pm to 8pm on Sundays and public holidays.
6.30pm: Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor v Singapore Slingers
8.30pm: Samsung Thunders v Mighty Sports
6.30pm: Malaysia Dragons v Samsung Thunders
8.30pm: Shanghai Sharks v Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor
6.30pm: Mighty Sports v Malaysia Dragons
8.30pm: Singapore Slingers v Shanghai Sharks
6.30pm: Semi-final 1 - Group A runners-up v Group B champions
8:30pm: Semi-final 2 - Group A champions v Group B runners-up
1pm: 5th/6th play-off
3.30pm: 3rd/4th play-off