NBA: Bucks, Hawks to play pre-season games in UAE

The Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (centre) bobbles a pass against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on Jan 17, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

DUBAI (AFP) - The Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks will face off in two pre-season games in October in the United Arab Emirates, marking the National Basketball Association's (NBA) first games in the Middle East.

The games will take place in Abu Dhabi on Oct 6 and 8, officials announced on Tuesday (May 10) during a press conference.

The games are part of a multi-year agreement between the NBA and Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism.

In 2021, the Milwaukee Bucks captured their first NBA title since 1971, with Giannis Antetokounmpo scoring 50 points - only the seventh player in finals history with a 50-point game.

The exhibitions in Abu Dhabi will mark the third time the team have played outside of the United States after Antetokounmpo joined - the first in 2015 in London against the New York Knicks and the second in Paris in 2020 against the Charlotte Hornets.

The NBA has a long history of staging pre-season and regular season games outside North America.

The first official overseas game took place in 1978, when the Washington Bullets travelled to Israel to play Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Since then, games have been staged throughout Europe and Asia, with Japan hosting the first overseas regular season games in 1990.

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