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Jazz to tune up with 36ers

DON'T expect the Adelaide 36ers, revamped and retooled as they may be, to cause the NBA's Utah Jazz any hiccups when they meet again in Salt Lake City on Saturday, October 5.

The third annual NBA versus NBL preseason games were confirmed today, although they have been an open secret for months, league CEO Jeremy Loeliger revealing some of the negotiations and decisions are settled 12-18 months in advance.

The Adelaide 36ers, Melbourne United and New Zealand Breakers will showcase the NBL in five games against the Utah Jazz, L.A. Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder and Sacramento Kings from October 5-16.

The matches now are part of the NBA's 2019 preseason fixturing.

“There’s never been a better time to be a basketball fan in Australia and New Zealand,” Francesco Suarez, Vice President of Global Partnerships, NBA Asia, said.

“Excitement around the game is an all-time high, and for the third consecutive year, fans can look forward to a competitive series of games featuring some of the best players in the NBL and NBA.”

And that's AFTER Australia hosts the USA at Marvel Stadium next month, ahead of the FIBA World Cup in China.

The first game of the NBA-NBL series will see the Adelaide 36ers against Utah Jazz, revisiting last year's match and with the Jazz featuring Adelaide-born Boomers' Olympic and World Cup star Joe Ingles.

The clash at Vivint Smart Home Arena also should feature Aussie combo guard Dante Exum.

Adelaide last year took an eight-point lead over the Jazz - the biggest lead by any NBL team in any match against an NBA opponent - and still was within touch, trailing 86-94 with a period to play.

But just as the 36ers were hitting the wall, the Jazz were hitting their stride, running out 129-99 victors.

“The Utah trip is not about preparing to beat them,” 36ers coach Joey Wright said today.

“It's about putting ourselves under the most pressure possible, before the season starts. They're capable of beating us by 50 but that's not what this is about.”

The Breakers, who last year ran the Phoenix Suns to a tight 86-91 result, play the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on Tuesday, October 8.

They then reunite with New Zealand's hottest NBA export Steven Adams when they face his Oklahoma City Thunder two nights later in Oklahoma.

Adams and former 36ers import Terrance Ferguson should be instantly recognisable by NBL fans.

The series concludes with Melbourne United facing Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, October 13 at STAPLES Center, followed by a game against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, October 16 at Golden 1 Center.

Australia and New Zealand had 14 players on NBA team rosters during the 2018-19 season, from Steven Adams (Oklahoma City Thunder), Deng Adel (Cleveland Cavaliers), Aron Baynes (Boston Celtics - now at Phoenix Suns), Andrew Bogut (Golden State Warriors), Jonah Bolden (Philadelphia 76ers), Ryan Broekhoff (Dallas Mavericks), Mitch Creek (Minnesota Timberwolves), Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers), Dante Exum (Utah Jazz), Isaac Humphries (Atlanta Hawks), Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz), Thon Maker (Detroit Pistons), Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers). {Kyrie Irving, who has just moved from Boston Celtics to Brooklyn Nets, was born in Melbourne but is a US citizen.}

“That this series is now heading into a third consecutive year is a reflection of the strength of partnership between the NBL and the NBA and the incredible growth and success of basketball in Australia and New Zealand,” Loeliger said.

“The NBL is now one of the premier basketball leagues in the world outside the NBA and we can’t wait for October.”

The closest an NBL team has come to an upset was in the inaugural 2017 series when Melbourne United took OKC to an 85-86 decision in Oklahoma City.

Utah, which also has played against Sydney Kings, last year belted Perth Wildcats 130-72. Perth responded by pushing Denver Nuggets to an 88-96 result before coming home and claiming the NBL championship.

All five matches are expected to be broadcast live, the NBL to make an announcement when the deal is formally confirmed.

Jul 4

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