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ABU DHABI: Basketball teams Atlanta Hawks and 2021 NBA champions Milwaukee Bucks are to play two pre-season games in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi later this year.

åMaking the announcement, the National Basketball Association and Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi said the matches would take place at the city’s Etihad Arena on Yas Island on Oct. 6 and 8.

The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022 will mark the league’s first games in the UAE and the Arabian Gulf. Tickets will go on sale at a date yet to be announced.

Atlanta Hawks chief executive officer, Steve Koonin, said: “The NBA continues to do an amazing job of growing the game internationally, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in the first NBA Abu Dhabi Games.

“As we look toward the future of the Hawks brand, being recognized as a premier NBA franchise globally is something we aspire to, and we believe the experience for our players and staff to take in the culture in Abu Dhabi will be both incredibly memorable and impactful.”

The Hawks currently feature two-time NBA All-Star Trae Young, 2020 to 2021 NBA rebounding leader Clint Capela, and 2018 NBA All-Rookie Second Team members John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic.

The Bucks meanwhile feature two-time Kia NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, three-time NBA All-Star Khris Middleton, and three-time NBA All-Defensive Team member Jrue Holiday.

The two teams met in the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals, with the Bucks going on to win their first NBA championship in 50 years.

Milwaukee Bucks and Fiserv Forum president, Peter Feigin, said: “We are honored to have been selected to participate in the NBA’s first games in the UAE.

“As the NBA continues to expand globally, we look forward to visiting Abu Dhabi and furthering the league’s goals of inspiring people through basketball. We will be proud to represent our city, our state, and Bucks fans worldwide this October.”

The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022 will be broadcast live in the UAE and across the Middle East and North Africa on beIN SPORTS, The Sports Channel, and NBA League Pass, the league’s premium live-game subscription service. The games will reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories around the world on television, and digital and social media.

The event is part of a groundbreaking multiyear partnership between the NBA and DCT Abu Dhabi that earlier this year witnessed the launch of the first Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League, a youth basketball league for 450 boys and girls aged 11 to 14 from local schools throughout the city.

The partnership also includes a variety of interactive fan events featuring appearances by current and former NBA players, a series of NBA FIT clinics promoting health and wellness, and an NBA 2K League exhibition event at Middle East Film and Comic Con.

DCT Abu Dhabi director general, Saleh Mohamed Al-Geziry, said: “We are thrilled to be hosting the UAE’s first NBA games in Abu Dhabi and look forward to welcoming the Atlanta Hawks, the Milwaukee Bucks and basketball fans from across the world to discover this incredible city and experience our authentic Emirati culture for themselves.

“Basketball has the ability to unite communities, and the spirit of the game will be felt by players and visitors, both on and off the court. The unveiling of the NBA teams marks an important milestone in our wider partnership with this world-class sports organization,” he added.

The partnership will also see DCT Abu Dhabi, under its Visit Abu Dhabi tourism promotion initiative, serve as the official tourism destination partner of the NBA in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and China.

More than 220 male and female prospects from the Middle East – including five players from the UAE – have participated in Basketball Without Borders or NBA Academy, the league’s elite basketball development programs for top prospects from outside the US.

Since 2019, more than 500 young people have also taken part in the NBA Basketball School Dubai (UAE), a year-round, tuition-based basketball development program for boys and girls aged six to 18.

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