Tokyo, Mar 15 (EFE).- The Washington Wizards and the Golden State Warriors will play two preseason games in Japan in the fall, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced Tuesday, signaling the return of NBA games to the Asian country.
The games will be played on Sep. 30 and Oct. 2 at the Saitama Super Arena, north of Tokyo, which hosted all the basketball games in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last year.
These will be the first NBA games in Japan since 2019, when the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors played two preseason matches at the same venue.
The NBA and the Japanese e-commerce company and event sponsor, Rakuten Group addressed a joint press conference in Tokyo.
“We are excited to once again bring preseason games to our fans in Japan,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said, highlighting the “great momentum around NBA basketball in the country.”
“We are so honored to represent the NBA and the wonderful game of basketball in front of an audience of Japanese fans. We are particularly excited to watch Rui Hachimura play in front of his fellow Japanese citizens,” Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said.
Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura became the first Japanese player in league history to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft in 2019.
In a recorded video message, Hachimura said he and his teammates were “very excited to be able to play in front of all the Japanese fans.”
“This is a very big moment for the country and basketball. I can’t wait to be part of it,” he added.
This will be the Wizards and the Warriors’ first visit to Japan and will mark the league’s 15th and 16th games in the country.
In 1990, the NBA began to stage regular season games in Japan, the first time such games by a US sports league were played outside North America.
By 2003, 12 regular season NBA games had been played in Japan.
The return of NBA games to Japan takes place within the framework of the agreement signed in 2017 between the NBA and Rakuten.
Under the partnership, the Japanese company became a global marketing partner of the NBA and the league’s exclusive live-game distribution partner in Japan. EFE