NBA Abu Dhabi Games may be slam dunk for basketball in the region

NBA Abu Dhabi Games may be slam dunk for basketball in the region
The Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks will meet at the NBA Abu Dhabi Games on Oct. 6 and 8. (Getty images)
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Updated 18 August 2022

NBA Abu Dhabi Games may be slam dunk for basketball in the region

NBA Abu Dhabi Games may be slam dunk for basketball in the region
  • Saleh Mohamed Al-Geziry, director general of tourism at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, talks to Arab News about the two games between the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks at the Etihad Arena

With the NBA Abu Dhabi Games on Oct. 6 and 8 hosting the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks at the Etihad Arena on Yas Island, Arab News spoke to Saleh Mohamed Al-Geziry, director general of tourism at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, about sports tourism, the partnership with the American league, and how it will lead to promoting basketball in the UAE and the region.

Here’s what he had to say:

On the partnership between the NBA and Abu Dhabi:

Our collaboration with the NBA is an exciting next step in our ambitious sports tourism strategy for the emirate, as we work to offer an unbeatable year-round calendar of fantastic sporting events. It’s hard to overstate basketball’s massive global appeal — the NBA is an incredibly popular league with millions of fans around the world, and viewership numbers that keep climbing year on year.

So, it was a natural choice to bring a sporting league of this magnitude to Abu Dhabi — it’s a fantastic opportunity to further raise our destination’s global profile, as the eyes of the basketball world will be firmly focused on the UAE capital this October.

The NBA partnership is ideal for Abu Dhabi; we already have a track record of numerous successful tie-ups with high profile global IPs and the emirate is a destination that prides itself on offering unique and innovative experiences. Now, with the NBA Abu Dhabi Games this October, we can offer some of the world’s biggest basketball superstars facing off in the region for the very first time.

And of course, fans converging in Abu Dhabi for this first-in-the-region event will have a positive impact on airlines, hotels, attractions, restaurants, and shopping malls while creating a great atmosphere.

On the massive response from basketball fans to the inaugural NBA Abu Dhabi Games:

The response has been phenomenal — the inaugural NBA Abu Dhabi Games is a sold-out event, and the anticipation is palpable among NBA fans across the country and the region. None of this is a great surprise to us, as we knew the interest was there, but it is still so gratifying to see the fan engagement and excitement in the lead-up to this ground-breaking sporting event.

The great news for fans in the city is that the action is not just focused on the arena, this is an unmissable week-long celebration of sport, entertainment and culture featuring two historic NBA games, citywide activations, an interactive fanzone and special appearances by NBA legends.

On the different NBA events to take place over the coming years:

Abu Dhabi and the NBA have entered into a multi-year strategic partnership, so we are exploring which activations and events make the most sense for the coming years.

One exciting offshoot of our collaboration that will definitely be taking place annually is the Junior NBA Abu Dhabi League, launched in February this year. It introduced the NBA and basketball to a whole new generation of 11- to 14-year-olds in Abu Dhabi, who also had the chance to meet and learn from seven-time NBA champion Robert Horry and Olympic gold medalist Clyde Drexler.

On the partnership between the NBA and DCT Abu Dhabi raising basketball’s profile in the UAE:

The partnership between the NBA and DCT Abu Dhabi has already begun to contribute directly to the growth of basketball within the region. Take the Junior NBA Abu Dhabi League, for instance, where more than 450 boys and girls from 30 schools across the emirate participated in its first-ever edition this year — and I have no doubt that we will see participation numbers rising in the future.

Looking to the wider region, this partnership also brings a huge range of activations to the GCC for the first time, including a series of NBA FIT clinics promoting health and wellness, an NBA 2K League Exhibition event at the annual Middle East Film & Comic Con, and interactive fan events featuring former and current NBA players. Such events will only grow interest in the sport of basketball and we look forward to seeing that development continue in the years ahead.

On how the NBA could develop local talent in the UAE and the region:

Hosting world-class sporting events ensures elite international players visit and inspire the local population, helping to grow interest and motivate young players to hone their talent and follow their dreams. Through its various high-profile events, Abu Dhabi has helped fuel the popularity of multiple sports throughout the region, including motorsports, golf, football, cricket, tennis, and swimming.

Basketball is firmly on that list. An increasing number of Emirati teams are entering international competitions, and more than 220 players from the Middle East recently joined Basketball Without Borders, a program that develops talent outside of the USA. Commonly known as the NBA Academy, this year’s cohort includes five players from the UAE.

What to expect at NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022:

The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022 is a first for the region, and undoubtedly a special and incredibly exciting time for basketball fans in the UAE and beyond. The sport of basketball is high-octane, with games speeding by at a breakneck pace, and those attending the games in October can expect non-stop action and thrills. I’m sure the audience’s energy will be electric as they cheer on their favorites.

What will make that time extra special are the accompanying activities and interactive fan events, which will provide unmissable opportunities to meet some of the world’s greatest basketball stars. Appearances by current top NBA players, as well as legends of the sport, will ensure that the NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022 will be an unforgettable experience for basketball fans.

Of course, we hope that fans venture beyond the on-court action and take the time to explore what the emirate has to offer. Visitors can ride the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, soak up the sun on our stunning beaches, take in some culture at Louvre Abu Dhabi, or enjoy alfresco dining experiences at Yas Bay. No matter what they’re looking for, there really is something for every visitor in Abu Dhabi.


Tunisian star Jabeur eases into second round at home in Monastir

Tunisian star Jabeur eases into second round at home in Monastir
Updated 17 sec ago

Tunisian star Jabeur eases into second round at home in Monastir

Tunisian star Jabeur eases into second round at home in Monastir
  • The 28-year-old, whose ambition is “to be a good example for all the young people who follow her” has won three WTA titles including two this year in Madrid and Berlin

MONASTIR, TUNISIA: Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur eased into the second round of her home tournament at Monastir on Tuesday with a straight sets win over American Ann Li.

Top seed Jabeur, a finalist at both Wimbledon and the US Open this year, won 6-2, 6-3 in the first-ever WTA tour event to be hosted in Tunisia.

The world No. 2 took 73 minutes to dispatch her 67th ranked opponent in their first meeting.

The Monastir tournament, staged on the central coast of Tunisia, is just the second women’s professional circuit organized in Africa, after that of Rabat in Morocco.

Jabeur is hugely popular in north Africa, and the world No. 2 is hoping “to reach the final and win in Monastir to make Tunisians happy.” 

The 28-year-old, whose ambition is “to be a good example for all the young people who follow her” has won three WTA titles including two this year in Madrid and Berlin.

“Young people must gain self-confidence to achieve their ambitions,” said the player dubbed “Minister of Happiness” in a Tunisia hit by a deep political and economic crisis.


Oust owners, officials named in US soccer abuse report: Sauerbrunn

Oust owners, officials named in US soccer abuse report: Sauerbrunn
Updated 05 October 2022

Oust owners, officials named in US soccer abuse report: Sauerbrunn

Oust owners, officials named in US soccer abuse report: Sauerbrunn
  • The 37-year-old two-time World Cup winner said players were “horrified and heartbroken” by the findings of a report published on Monday

LOS ANGELES: US international captain Becky Sauerbrunn said Tuesday team owners and officials implicated in a bombshell report which detailed systemic sexual abuse and misconduct in US women’s soccer should be barred from the sport.

The 37-year-old two-time World Cup winner said players were “horrified and heartbroken” by the findings of a report published on Monday following a year-long investigation by former US Attorney General Sally Yates.

Yates’ report included interviews with more than 200 National Women’s Soccer League players — many of them members of US national teams — and detailed patterns of abuse from team coaches, manipulation and tirades.

“Every owner and executive and US soccer official who has repeatedly failed the players and failed to protect the players who have hidden behind legalities and have not participated fully in these investigations should be gone,” Sauerbrunn said in a video-conference call from London, where the US women’s team is preparing for a friendly with England on Friday.

Merritt Paulson, the owner of Sauerbrunn’s club, the Portland Thorns, was accused in the Yates report along with other club officials of enabling misconduct by former Thorns manager Paul Riley.

Pressed on whether Paulson was included in the team owners she believes should be forced out of the NWSL, Sauerbrunn replied: “It includes everyone that has continued to fail the players time and time again, who didn’t take players concerns seriously, who didn’t pass on information correctly, who have not participated in investigations. All of them.”

In a separate development on Tuesday, Paulson, who is also the owner of the Portland Timbers Major League Soccer franchise, said he was removing himself from all Thorns-related decision-making until the conclusion of a separate NWSL/NWSL Players Association investigation.

“I cannot apologize enough for our role in a gross systemic failure to protect player safety and the missteps we made in 2015,” Paulson said in a statement.

“I am truly sorry.”

Sauerbrunn, meanwhile, said players were “not doing well” following publication of the findings of the investigation, which was launched last year after reports in The Athletic and Washington Post lifted the lid on abuse in the NWSL.

“We are horrified and heartbroken and frustrated and exhausted and really, really angry,” said Sauerbrunn, a veteran of 208 internationals stretching back to 2008.

“We are angry that it took a third party investigation. We’re angry that it took an article in The Athletic and the Washington Post.

“We’re angry that it took over 200 people sharing their trauma to get to this point right now.

“For so long, this has always fallen on the players to demand change. And that is because the people in authority and decision-making positions have repeatedly failed to protect us. And they have failed to hold themselves and each other accountable.”

US head coach Vlatko Andonovski, meanwhile, said members of his squad would be given the option of sitting out this week’s game against England if they decided they were not in the right frame of mind for the game.

“Some players and staff members need time, need space, need to process all of it,” Andonovski said. “That’s why we as a staff are allowing the players to think and process to do whatever they need in order to get over this difficult time.

“If that means they don’t want to participate in a team meeting, or in a team training, or even if they don’t want to play the game, then it’s up to them,” said Andonovski, adding that he was “sickened and disgusted” by details of the report.

“Now this report is out, it’s our job to do our part to make sure that no one has to deal with this ever again in our sport at any level,” he added.

Sauerbrunn, meanwhile, said she has not contemplated the possibility of going on strike to force change in the NWSL.

“I haven’t thought about not playing,” she said. “I hope it won’t get to that point. A lot of us have been navigating these things for a very long time and you find a way to deal with it. We, as women, as players have faced a lot for a very long time. Unfortunately, I’d say you get used to it.”


Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record
Updated 14 min 14 sec ago

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

ARLINGTON, Texas: Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record and setting what some fans consider baseball’s “clean” standard.

The 30-year-old Yankees slugger drove a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jesus Tinoco into the first row of seats in left field when leading off the second game of New York’s day-night doubleheader.

After No. 99 took a smooth, mighty swing, he had a wide smile on his face as he rounded the bases and his Yankees teammates streamed out of the dugout to celebrate with him. They stayed away from home plate, letting Judge step on it before sharing hugs and high-fives.

Judge’s mother and father were in the stands to see Judge end a five-game homerless streak, including Game 1 of the doubleheader when he was 1 for 5 with a single.

The ball was caught by a fan in Section 31, who was then taken with security to have the ball authenticated.

Another fan was escorted away after leaping out of the seats into a gap between the seats and the left-field wall.

Maris’ 61 for the Yankees in 1961 had been exceeded six times previously, but all were tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Barry Bonds hit an MLB-record 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001, and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans — perhaps many — until now have considered Maris as holder of the legitimate record.

A Ruthian figure with a smile as outsized as his body, the 6-foot-7 Judge has rocked the major leagues with a series of deep drives that hearken to the sepia tone movie reels of his legendary pinstriped predecessors.

“He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ,” Roger Maris Jr. said Wednesday night after his father’s mark was matched by Judge. “I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”

Judge had homered only once in the past 13 games, and that was when he hit No. 61 last Wednesday in Toronto. The doubleheader nightcap in Texas was his 55th game in row played since Aug. 5.

Judge was 3 for 17 with five walks and a hit by pitch since moving past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league record for 34 years. Maris hit his 61st off Boston’s Tracy Stallard at old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961.

Judge has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 131 RBIs and began the day trailing Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315.

The home run in his first at-bat put him back to .311, where he had started the day before dropping a point in the opener.

Judge’s accomplishment will cause endless debate.

“To me, the holder of the record for home runs in a season is Roger Maris,” author George Will said earlier this month. “There’s no hint of suspicion that we’re seeing better baseball than better chemistry in the case of Judge. He’s clean. He’s not doing something that forces other players to jeopardize their health.”

 


Liverpool edge Rangers, Napoli underline Champions League credentials

Liverpool edge Rangers, Napoli underline Champions League credentials
Updated 05 October 2022

Liverpool edge Rangers, Napoli underline Champions League credentials

Liverpool edge Rangers, Napoli underline Champions League credentials
  • Hakan Calhanoglu fired Inter Milan to a 1-0 win over Barcelona at  San Siro

PARIS: Liverpool eased to a comfortable 2-0 win in the ‘Battle of Britain’ against Rangers in the Champions League group games on Tuesday while Napoli underlined their credentials with an impressive 6-1 thrashing of Ajax in Amsterdam.

On a night when a minute’s silence was held before every match in tribute to the 131 victims of the Indonesia stadium tragedy, Bayern Munich and Club Brugge also made it three wins from three while Inter edged Barcelona in a tight contest in Milan.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool went into their Group A game against the Scottish champions on the back of just three wins in their first nine Premier League and Champions League games of the season.

But they settled quickly when Trent Alexander-Arnold produced a sublime free-kick to put the home side ahead after just seven minutes.

Rangers’ 40-year-old goalkeeper Allan McGregor produced some fine saves, including four to deny Darwin Nunez his first goal for Liverpool, to keep his side in the hunt at halftime.

Seven minutes into the second half, however, Leon King’s challenge caught the legs of Luis Diaz to give away a penalty.

Mohamed Salah stepped up and struck the ball down the middle as McGregor was unable to repeat the penalty-saving heroics he produced against Napoli.

“It was exactly what we needed. It was a super, solid performance,” said Klopp, who switched from his usual 4-3-3 formation to a 4-2-3-1.

“Sometimes you have to change things.”

Napoli stay top of Group A after another impressive victory, coming from behind to hammer Ajax 6-1 to take their tally of goals to 13 from three matches.

Mohammed Kudus put the home side ahead in the ninth minute but Luciano Spalletti’s side bounced back with first-half goals from Giacomo Raspadori, Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Piotr Zielinski.

Raspadori added his second two minutes after the restart and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia added the fifth just after the hour.

Ajax’s night was made worse when captain Dusan Tadic was sent off after collecting a second yellow card and Giovanni Simeone closed out the win.

Bayern moved to the edge of qualification with a third successive win, thrashing Viktoria Plzen 5-0 in Group C.

“We were calm, we dominated and we were in total control,” said Bayern captain and Manuel Neuer.

“When everything is going well, we’re almost unstoppable.”

German international Leroy Sane struck twice, opening the scoring from distance after seven minutes and adding a second five minutes after the break.

Between Sane’s two goals, Serge Gnabry added a second on 13 minutes before Sadio Mane posted his first Champions League goal for Bayern with number three after 21 minutes.

Substitute Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting came off the bench at half time and added the fifth just before the hour mark.

Hakan Calhanoglu fired Inter Milan to a 1-0 win over Barcelona at the San Siro which took the Italians into second spot in Group C, three points behind Bayern.

Inter had lost five of the previous 10 matches in all competitions but Turkey midfielder Calhanoglu ended the crisis talk when he lashed in the only goal of the game on the stroke of half-time.

“It was very important today for us, to show something to our fans who are always with us. We showed that we deserved it,” said Calhanoglu.

Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez, however, was left fuming after two key handball decisions went against his team.

The first saw an equalizer ruled out following a pitch review by referee Slavko Vincic for Ansu Fati’s handball just before the ball dropped to Pedri to tuck home.

Barca were then denied a stoppage time penalty after VAR officials ruled that Denzel Dumfries did not commit a handball offense despite touching the ball in a very similar way to Fati.

“If you ask me I’m outraged... the word is outrage because it makes no sense, it’s an injustice,” Xavi told reporters.

“I think it’s an injustice, I just can’t hide it.”

Club Brugge also claimed a third successive win to continue their surprise charge toward the next round.

Kamal Sowah and Ferran Jutgla were on target as the Belgian side made short work of Atletico Madrid in Group B.

Atletico had their chances with Antoine Griezmann crashing a penalty off the crossbar. They also had a goal ruled out for offside which added to their frustration.

“It’s a very tight group and we will have to fight because we won’t get anything for free,” said Atletico captain Koke.

Club Brugge top Group B, three points ahead of the other three teams after Porto beat Bayern Leverkusen 2-0 with second half goals from Zaidu and Galeno.

Sporting Lisbon’s march in Group D came to a shuddering halt in Marseille where the home side came from a goal down to win 4-1 and get their first win under their belt.

Lisbon still top the group with six points, two ahead of Eintracht Frankfurt and Tottenham Hotspur who played out a goalless draw in Germany.
 


Marseille beats 10-man Sporting after goalkeeper errors

Marseille beats 10-man Sporting after goalkeeper errors
Updated 04 October 2022

Marseille beats 10-man Sporting after goalkeeper errors

Marseille beats 10-man Sporting after goalkeeper errors
  • Marseille ended Sporting's perfect record with goals from Alexis Sanchez, Amine Harit, Leonardo Balerdi and Chancel Mbemba
  • Sporting wasted no time once the game got started, needing less than 60 seconds to break the deadlock

MARSEILLE, France: Marseille recovered from going behind in the first minute to rout Sporting Lisbon 4-1 Tuesday in the Champions League, thanks in part to visiting goalkeeper Antonio Adan making two costly errors before getting sent off.
After not scoring a goal in two opening losses in Group D, Marseille ended Sporting’s perfect record with goals from Alexis Sanchez, Amine Harit, Leonardo Balerdi and Chancel Mbemba.
Adan had a night to forget, as he gifted Sanchez the equalizing goal after dawdling on the ball, made another mistake for the second and then was handed a red card in the 23rd minute after handling the ball outside his area.
The kickoff was delayed by more than 20 minutes after the bus carrying the visiting team’s players was caught in traffic and arrived late at the Velodrome stadium. The delay had been set to 15 minutes by UEFA and as Marseille players waited in the tunnel, coach Igor Tudor looked furious and complained to match officials that their opponents were late to come out of the locker room.
But Sporting wasted no time once the game got started, needing less than 60 seconds to break the deadlock.
With Marseille defenders letting him move forward unopposed, Francisco Trincao went down the right flank and cut inside to fire a left-footed shot into the net.
Marseille needed a blunder from the Sporting goalkeeper to get back in the match in the 13th minute.
Under pressure from Sanchez, Adan kicked the ball straight at the Chile striker as he tried to clear, and it bounced back into the net.
Adan looked destabilized and was again at fault on Marseille’s next goal three minutes later after another poor kick landed at Matteo Guendouzi’s feet. The midfielder was quick to pass the ball to Jonathan Clauss, who crossed it for Harit to finish off the move with a fine header.
Adan then rushed out to clear a ball in the 23rd, only to mistime his run and handle outside the area. Forward Marcus Edwards came off to make way for goalkeeper Franco Israel, who made his Champions League debut.
Israel’s lack of experience was on display on Marseille’s next chance, when he misjudged a free kick from Harit and could not stop Leonardo Balerdi’s powerful header in the 28th.
Sporting could not recover and were repeatedly sanctioned four fouls as Marseille controlled the remainder of the match, with Mbemba adding luster to the win in the 85th minute from close range.
The game was played without fans following the crowd trouble during Eintracht Frankfurt’s 1-0 win at Marseille last month.