Across two separate sessions, the stars of the Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves took to the court at Etihad Arena on Thursday for their final practice workouts ahead of Friday’s official tip-off of the second edition of the NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2023 Presented by ADQ.
Luka Dončić, Kyrie Irving, Rudy Gobert, Anthony Edwards, and the rest of the two visiting teams’ rosters ran through a series of offensive and defensive drills under the watchful eyes of Jason Kidd and Chris Finch, the Mavericks and Timberwolves respective coaches.
Players from both teams looked relaxed under the lights, enjoying their first experience of the Etihad Arena and Abu Dhabi in general.
Post-session, Kyrie Irving, Rudy Gobert, and Anthony Edwards expressed their excitement at being part of the NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2023 Presented by ADQ, following last year’s inaugural event featuring the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks.
Mavericks Kyrie Irving expressed his excitement for the upcoming year, emphasising the importance of pre-season.
“The experience in Abu Dhabi, and especially the desert yesterday has been incredible - more beautiful than the pictures could ever make it out to be. I’m really enjoying myself. It’s amazing to see how NBA has been able to market the brand internationally and turn the game into something from all over the world which people can strive to be a part of. The love of the game connects all of us,” Irving said.
The Timberwolves are equally as determined to start the season strongly, which requires hitting the ground running. Playing a strong team such as the Mavs in pre-season can only quicken that process, said Edwards.
“It is great coming back to Abu Dhabi and showing our game here, it’s an incredible experience, and I am super happy for the city to have us play here. During my last visit I saw the excitement of our fans, and this time as well we got to put on a show for them especially,” said the 2023 NBA All-Star.
Taking about his game, he said, “We don’t take the preseason games lightly, we want to come out and figure out the chemistry between the two teams, it is super important, and we take this super seriously.”
Meanwhile, France-born three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, added: “It’s my first time in Abu Dhabi and playing at the Etihad Arena; so far and it has been pretty busy but quite fun at the same time. Winning or losing doesn’t matter as of now but the way we approach those games and the focus we are going to have on the details, are important.
“I went to the grand mosque yesterday which was amazing, and I am excited to visit the desert today, the beach and also explore the landscape of Abu Dhabi.”
The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2023 Presented by ADQ offer fans a rare opportunity to catch top-level basketball up close.
Taking place on October 5 and 7 with 8pm GST tip off at Etihad Arena, tickets for the games are on sale at etihadarena.ae and ticketmaster.ae.
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