MANILA, August 7, 2005 
(STAR) NBA fans in the Philippines can get a close-up of the rookie season of Asiaís biggest basketball superstar, Houston center Yao Ming, with the local showing of the slickly entertaining "The Year of the Yao."

The critically-acclaimed sport-documentary gives us a look at the man behind the gentle giant during his first season as a pro, with close access to him at home, on the road, in the locker room and trying out North American delicacies like Taco Bell. What emerges is that Yao is a fascinating individual with great humor and modesty, as well as the potential to be one of the greats.

In view of the heightened interest for Yao Ming, Proline Sports Center ó the exclusive Philippine distributor of official NBA Spalding basketballs and backboards ó is making available special edition Yao Ming memorabilia for sports hobbyists or ordinary basketball fans.

Basketball enthusiasts can buy the Spalding Yao Ming jersey basketball with the Houston Rockets home uniform of the 7-5 behemoth expertly designed on the ball. This ball is an Underglass ball (laminated for that classy appeal) and retails for only P1,150 each. Great on the court or even in the trophy cabinet, according to Proline.

Closer to home is Spalding Yao Ming country ball where the flag and flag colors of his home country, Peoples Republic of China, are featured on the ball. This red and yellow player-country ball also has a version for the very young player, replicated in a smaller package. The ball is part of the micro mini backboard package where the Chinese flag and colors are emblazoned on the board. The regular Yao Ming country ball sells for P399 while the Yao Ming micro mini backboard goes for P445.

Lhuillier bankrolls RP five for SEAG The Philippine Star 08/07/2005

Cebuano billionaire-businessman Michel Lhuillier has taken over from where his nephew Jean Henri Lhuillier of Cebuana Lhuillier has left off.

M. Lhuillier this weekend forged an agreement with the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) to bankroll the RP menís team that will participate in the Manila Southeast Asian Games this November if the FIBA ban on the Philippines is lifted.

" We have to be prepared just in case the ban is lifted and our country is allowed to compete in the SEA Games. We are forming a team for the SEAG which Michel has agreed to fund in spite of the uncertainty of the times," said BAP president Joey Lina.

M. Lhuillier, who has been a patron of basketball for two decades, said he was extending help to the BAP, "for love of country and for love of basketball."

Prior to the agreement with BAP, Michel conferred with brother Philip, father of former RP team supporter John Henri, who immediately gave his blessings to Michelís decision to sponsor the Nationals, belying reports that there is bad blood in the Lhuillier family.

"Whatever happens, I am committed to help the national team. Even if we donít get to play in the SEA Games, I will continue to support the team," Michel said.

Lina inducted Michel Lhuillier as vice president for the Visayas and Cebu Councilor Raul "Yayoy" Alcoseba as director for region 7 of the BAP at a well attended dinner presscon in Cebu last Friday night.

Alcoseba, who is also coach of the ML (Michel Lhuillier) Kuwarta Padala team, which has won NBC and URBL titles, has been tasked by Michel to oversee the training of the national team which will now be based in Cebu.

Alcoseba was coach of the immensely popular and star-studded Lhuillier Jewelers team that won the l986 PABL title in Cinderella fashion. The champion team was bannered by then amateur superstars Samboy Lim and Jojo Lastimosa.

Meanwhile, Lina revealed during the presscon that he will write a letter to POC president Peping Cojuangco, Jr., proposing a temporary truce between the warring factions, in order that we may be able to defend our title in the SEAG.

This will be the second time that Lina will make an appeal to POC to lift the expulsion of the BAP.

"The first time, I was practically on my knees begging for the POC not to expel us. But my plea fell on deaf ears. However I am doing this again for the sake of millions of basketball crazy Filipinos who want to see us defend our title for the sixth straight year. Hope springs eternal," Lina said

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved