Abu Dhabi: For basketball lovers in the UAE, they couldn’t have asked for more. They get to witness one of the top basketball teams in the world in action and up close as the US men’s national basketball squad square up to play a pair of games in Abu Dhabi.
The US team, which is ranked No 2 in the world, will be playing in the UAE for the first time ever and will take on Greece and Germany at the Etihad Arena from August 17 to 19. “I think growing our game is a big part of USA basketball,” said US coach Steve Kerr. “We want to spread the game and goodwill. The sport brings people together and crosses boundaries. We feel like we’re sharing our game, but also representing the US, hopefully in a very respectful, decent way of working,” he added.
This is the second weekend of exhibitions abroad for the US team as it’s on its way to the World Cup which will be held in the Philippines from August 25. Before arriving in the UAE, they played Spain and Slovenia last weekend.
“We’re really excited to be here, not only for the basketball, but for the cultural experience, to see the country for the first time for most of us, and to experience the culture and experience the tournament with the other teams and to really prepare for the World Cup,” Kerr said.
“The build-up has been great. Just for us, we’ve had a week in Spain and five days in [Las] Vegas before that. We’re about two weeks into this and we’re building up and really getting a good foundation for the tournament,” the coach added, noting the team is in the right spirit to compete in the showpiece event.
“Yes, the team has been great [heading into Manila]. The guys are really competing and understanding their roles and they’re great guys,” he said.
“USA Basketball is thrilled to work with DCT Abu Dhabi to bring the USA Basketball Showcase to Abu Dhabi,” USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley said. “This is the first time our men’s national team will play in the UAE and we’re excited to engage with fans from across the globe, while also offering our players and coaches memorable on- and off-court experiences.”
The NBA played games in Abu Dhabi for the first time last year, sending Milwaukee — including Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, who presumably could be part of these matchups — and Atlanta there in October for a pair of pre-season games. The NBA plans two more pre-season games in Abu Dhabi later this year, in advance of the 2023-24 season.
“It’s set to be an unforgettable summer in Abu Dhabi and it’s an honour to host the first USA Basketball Showcase in the UAE,” said Saleh Al Geziry, DCT Abu Dhabi’s director general of tourism.
August 18: USA v Greece
August 19: Greece v Germany
August 20: USA v Germany