Basketball is bringing people together: Milwaukee Bucks' stars in Abu Dhabi

Antetokounmpo said he cannot wait to be part of history as two NBA pre-season games will be held in the region for the first time



NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo meets rising basketball players in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. (Supplied photo)
NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo meets rising basketball players in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. (Supplied photo)
by

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Tue 4 Oct 2022, 10:27 PM

Ahead of the historic NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022, which will mark the league’s debut in the Middle East as 2021 champions Milwaukee Bucks face the Atlanta Hawks, there is a feverish excitement all around.

Star players noted that the feeling of being part of history is something they would cherish forever and the experience of being in Abu Dhabi will always remain close to their hearts.

The Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo said he cannot wait to be part of history as two NBA pre-season games will be held in the region for the first time.

“This is a great experience, bringing basketball here. Basketball should be a worldwide sport, it’s global, like everybody loves basketball," he told a select group of reporters.

"For the NBA to come here, bring us here, have the first game ever, is making history. Being part of history is a great feeling. I hope every part of the world can experience basketball. It’s about bringing people together.”

Khris Middleton, the Bucks’ forward, underlined that being part of a momentous event meant a lot to everyone in the team.

“Just being part of growing this game all over the world, bringing people, different countries, cultures together. To be part of history is pretty cool,” Middleton said.

And wasting no time after touching down in the UAE capital, stars of the Bucks hit the basketball courts of New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), giving tips and teaching techniques to boys and girls.

“It feels great. To just be able to come here and share basketball with kids. It’s an unbelievable feeling. We have got our families too as it’s the first time we are coming here. Everybody is here. This is amazing,” Antetokounmpo said on the sidelines of the basketball clinic.

A series of youth engagement programmes, Junior NBA week, and other activities will be held in the capital city this week as part of the historic NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022.

“This is unbelievable. I am excited for the game but a day like this makes it more fun, this is what basketball is all about, giving back to the kids… And I know they are going to remember this. When I was 14-15 years old, a lot of NBA and Euro League legends came to my practice and helped me become who I am today. So, I know that these 1-2 hours we spend with the kids, they will remember it always, and this is what basketball is all about,” Antetokounmpo noted.

Great games

This Thursday and Saturday, the Hawks and the Bucks will play two preseason games at Etihad Arena on Yas Island.

Middleton anticipated a tight contest between the two teams.

“Fans can expect two great games. We are in the early stage of our season where we are trying to get things going again. Hopefully these will be great, exciting games, going down to the wire. Hopefully we are going to win,” Middleton said.

Middleton, who underwent wrist surgery in July, will not be part of the starting team but said he is recovering fast.

“I am getting stronger every day. I still haven’t been able to get on the court and shoot a basketball yet. My body feels fine. Other than that I just really can’t wait to get back and play games with these guys out here. I wish I was playing here,” he said.

Middleton added that the players and their families are eager to explore the wonderful places of Abu Dhabi and the UAE.

“I think for most of us it is the first time here. So, we are ready to go sight-seeing, and see what this city and country is all about.”


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