NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2023: Timberwolves dominate Mavericks

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Consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis.” byline=”Albert Alba” caption=”At the NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2023 in Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi.” credits=”SUPPLIED”]

NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2023: Timberwolves dominate Mavericks

NBA fans and celebrities were treated to awesome displays of exceptional basketball skills and talent as Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves handed four-time NBA All-Star Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving of the Dallas Mavericks two losses in pre-season games held on October 5 and 7 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.

Before a sellout crowd, both teams delighted fans with razzle-dazzle plays, power dunks, and accurate three-point shooting as the Timberwolves registered two highly contested victories against the Mavericks, 111-99 in the first match and 104-96 in the second game.

Michael B Jordan wins shootout challenge

Adding further excitement to the hardcourt action was the presence of celebrities such as actor Michael B Jordan from the Black Panther, as well as rappers DaBaby, Lloyd Banks, and T-Pain, celebrity host Steve Harvey, and Bollywood star Ranveer Singh. To the crowd’s delight, Michael B Jordan challenged, competed and won over Kyrie Irving in a fun three-point shootout challenge. Irving was in street clothes and did not play in the second game of the two-game series due to a minor injury.

Other celebrities in attendance at the event as part of the NBA entourage were basketball legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ray Allen, Gary Payton and Shawn Marion.

Abu Dhabi becoming home for basketball in region

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum expressed their delight on how Abu Dhabi is increasingly establishing itself as a home for basketball in this region.

“What we have learned whenever we do these preseason games, and especially in a new market, is that whenever we go back, we learn with our partners what it is we can do better. So, I’ve noticed growth this year, yes. It just seems like a bigger deal here than it was last year,” Silver said.

Tatum echoed Silver’s observations as he noted a rapid rise not only in interest, but also in initiatives aimed at furthering that growth. He mentioned that the Junior NBA programme has reached 10,000 boys and girls within the local community in just two years, while the new NBA Store inside Yas Mall is posting increased year-on-year sales. The NBA’s on-demand League Pass platform is also seeing increasing subscriptions from within the Gulf.

“Abu Dhabi in a short amount of time has become really a hub for basketball in this region,” Tatum said. “Part of the goal behind bringing the Games here is to really grow fan interest within the local market and we’re seeing that we’re getting partners involved now. We’re getting grassroots involved, we’re getting media partners involved, and so it is all growing organically.”

However, while there is eagerness and excitement from fans on holding NBA regular games in Abu Dhabi, Silver was cautious about such possibility.

“It’s a trade-off because if we were to bring a regular season game, given how condensed our schedule is, different time zones and such, the players would land, sleep, practise, play, then leave. That would be the only way to do it,” Silver explained. “The benefit to doing these preseason games is the teams can come, they can go to the Grand Mosque, they can have a beautiful dinner in the desert, see the Abrahamic Family House and the Louvre and all these great opportunities here to learn about the culture. So, right now, as we continue to develop the fan base here, we’re better off having preseason games.”

“The return of the NBA Games to Abu Dhabi as part of a landmark partnership between the NBA and DCT Abu Dhabi has enabled us to attract a wider sporting audience base across not only the capital and the UAE, but across the GCC region,” said Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry, Director General for Tourism, Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) Abu Dhabi. “There’s massive excitement for basketball here and partnerships such as this further support the interests of our community, while raising awareness about the sport among potential new fans. This event helps to raise the bar for sports in Abu Dhabi.”

Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch and Mavericks star Luka Doncic were impressed about the buzz and excitement of the event.

“As soon as we came off practice, you could feel the buzz building around the game. It felt like a much bigger event than a normal pre-season game. The crowd was outstanding. We knew it was going to be a sell-out and a great atmosphere and the fans certainly showed up for us. We’ve had an outstanding time here, so gracious, warm, and welcoming. The atmosphere has been special given it’s only a preseason game. Everyone involved in bringing these games to this part of the world deserves credit and the fans are lapping it up.”

For his part, Doncic said: “The crowd was great! There were a lot of celebrities. I didn’t expect that, so it was a lot of fun and I’m really glad to be able to play here.”

The Mavericks-Timberwolves pre-season games were held as part of a multiyear collaboration between the NBA and DCT Abu Dhabi. The collaboration kicked-off last year with the league’s first pre-season games between the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks being held in Abu Dhabi.

The NBA-DCT Abu Dhabi collaboration includes an expanded second season of the Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League, where boys and girls in the ages of 11-14 from schools across the UAE capital compete in leagues. 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 were also held. AA/Expat Media

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