The Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks are looking forward to another high-level pre-season game in the NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022 on Saturday.

In the historic NBA’s regional debut on Thursday, the Hawks, led by Dejounte Murray (25 points) and Trae Young (22) defeated the defending champions 123-113. The Hawks’ top stars are hoping to continue the winning momentum on Saturday, whereas the Bucks seek to bolster defence.

Murray underlined that he was “excited to compete” and lead the Hawks to victory over the Bucks and strived to get better. “I’m already on to Saturday. We got the win, but like I said, there’s always room to improve.”

Murray pointed out that throughout the camp, the players have been trying to get better, learn new things and add it to their game.

“We’ve got to keep that hunger mentality to work, to continue to learn and get better and grow with each other and compete at a high level.”

Young added: “We have the talent, chemistry and still building with new guys.”

The Bucks started well in the first quarter but lost the edge in the next three.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks’ star player, said the team need to play harder and execute their game plans in a better way.

“As a team, I think we can keep getting better, and learn from one another. We have most of the guys from last year. We have to get better. We need to dominate, we need to build chemistry, day by day, if we do that we can put ourselves in a good position to win games.

Antetokounmpo added: “We got to defend better. If we do that, Saturday will be better.”

On his personal form, he said: “I was a bit rusty, but it’s ok. It’s not a sprint but a marathon.”

Bucks assistant coach Charles Lee said the players were glad with the experience of being in Abu Dhabi.

“It was an unbelievable environment (on Thursday night). It was amazing to experience the love of basketball here. We got to play a high-level game. There were lot of star power on both sides.”

Talking about the game, he underlined: “Both teams offensively were clicking. From our standpoint, it’s nice defensively to go up against some guys on the Hawks that obviously are very skilled. They can beat you in a lot of ways offensively, individual talents, and they are well coached.”

Lee noted that despite the loss, the team achieved its prime goal of limiting giving away three-pointer scoring opportunities.

“Our emphasis on the pre-season has been to limit the 3s. So from that standpoint definitely a plus giving up 22 three points overall. As game two comes around, we will continue to be ourselves, try to take on a couple of things, and compete at a high level. We are focused on our daily improvement and ourselves, and to be the best team.”

Second NBA Abu Dhabi Games pre-season

Etihad Arena (8 pm)

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