UAE Hosts Bucks, Hawks in 1st NBA Games in Mideast

An NBA logo is seen on the facade of a flagship store. Reuters file photo
An NBA logo is seen on the facade of a flagship store. Reuters file photo
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UAE Hosts Bucks, Hawks in 1st NBA Games in Mideast

An NBA logo is seen on the facade of a flagship store. Reuters file photo
An NBA logo is seen on the facade of a flagship store. Reuters file photo

The Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks will face off in two pre-season games in October in the United Arab Emirates, marking the first time two NBA teams have played each other in the Middle East.

The matchups will take place in the capital Abu Dhabi on October 6 and 8, officials announced on Tuesday during a press conference.

The games are part of a multi-year agreement between the NBA and Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism, AFP reported.

In 2021, the Milwaukee Bucks captured their first NBA title since 1971, with Giannis Antetokounmpo scoring 50 points -- only the seventh player in finals history with a 50-point game.

The exhibitions in Abu Dhabi will mark the third time the team has played outside of the United States after Antetokounmpo joined -- the first in 2015 in London against the New York Knicks and the second in Paris in 2020 against the Charlotte Hornets.

The NBA has a long history of staging pre-season and regular season games outside North America.

The first official overseas game took place in 1978, when the Washington Bullets traveled to Israel to play Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Since then, games have been staged throughout Europe and Asia, with Japan hosting the first overseas regular season games in 1990.



Licking Their Wounds, Croatia and Albania Prepare for Group B Dogfight

 Croatia's midfielder #10 Luka Modric looks on during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between Spain and Croatia at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on June 15, 2024. (AFP)
Croatia's midfielder #10 Luka Modric looks on during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between Spain and Croatia at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on June 15, 2024. (AFP)
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Licking Their Wounds, Croatia and Albania Prepare for Group B Dogfight

 Croatia's midfielder #10 Luka Modric looks on during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between Spain and Croatia at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on June 15, 2024. (AFP)
Croatia's midfielder #10 Luka Modric looks on during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between Spain and Croatia at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on June 15, 2024. (AFP)

Chastened by defeats to the heavyweights of Group B, Croatia and Albania both need a win in their clash on Wednesday to ignite their Euro 2024 campaign and give them hope of progressing.

Croatia have a rich World Cup history but have never replicated that at the Euros and began their latest attempt with a disappointing 3-0 defeat against Spain.

Albania are at only their second major tournament and performed creditably against defending champions Italy in their opening match, taking an early lead before succumbing 2-1.

Both teams urgently need points in their second game at Hamburg's Volksparkstadion, either to compete for the two qualifying spots or to bolster their chances of being one of the four best third-placed teams who will progress to the knockouts.

Croatia's coach Zlatko Dalic wants more aggression and speed from a team oozing quality -- from veteran midfielder Luka Modric, 38, at probably his last big tournament, to classy defender Josko Gvardiol, 22, at the other end of his career.

"We know what we're up against. We have two difficult matches. It's not over, keep your heads up. Our goal is to advance from the group and we will do our best to achieve that," Dalic said of a game Croatian media have billed as do-or-die.

"Everything is still in our hands, still under our control. We need to be better... It's up to me to turn things around, point out the flaws and not dwell too much on the Spain match."

Despite being viewed as minnows, Albania topped their qualifying group over teams such as the Czech Republic and Poland and are not at the tournament to make up the numbers.

Their Brazilian coach Sylvinho will try to keep his team disciplined before hitting Croatia on the break -- as they did against Italy with a goal after 23 seconds and so nearly again at the end when they narrowly failed to equalize.

"I have seen other sides in this tournament. If you try and go toe-to-toe with them, they will score five or six against you," he said. "It's only our second time here in the Euros. We have young players, very good players, but it's not easy."

Right winger Jasir Asani is Albania's main threat in what is the nation's first game against Croatia.