Manchester is to host the USA’s men’s and women’s national teams ahead of the Olympics next year, and an NBA pre-season game in 2013. But first up, a WNBA exhibition game in May.
The friendly between the Atlanta Dream and an unconfirmed opponent – potentially Great Britain’s women – will be held at the MEN Arena on May 29, the first time the 20,500-capacity venue has hosted professional basketball since the demise of the Manchester Giants in 2000.
The Dream – who reached the WNBA Finals last year – will be taking part in the women’s league’s second-ever excursion outside the USA.
If they accept the tie, GB would use the meeting as an additional warm-up fixture ahead of the Eurobasket finals in Poland.
“We’re looking forward to it,” said Dream General Manager Marynell Meadors.
However there will be huge anticipation about next year’s visit of both versions of Team USA – both of which won gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – who will each play a Global Community Cup tour game in July 2012 at the MEN.
Each side will use the friendlies as preparation for the Olympics in London. Their opponents will be confirmed at a later date.
The city will also play host to a NBA pre-season game in the autumn of 2013. The teams have yet to be announced.
The NBA has played pre-season games in London for four consecutive seasons at The O2 Arena as part of NBA Europe Live presented by EA Sports.
“We are delighted to bring NBA, WNBA, and USA Basketball games to the internationally renowned sports city of Manchester,” said NBA Europe senior vice-president Sophie Goldschmidt.
“This comprehensive schedule of premier basketball events will help grow the sport for years to come.
“This partnership shows our ongoing commitment to deepen basketball’s footprint in the country.”
The announcement, made days before the New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors play a regular season tie in London, comes at the outset of UK Basketball Week, several days of concerted promotional activity around the sport.
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