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Breakers, Taipans heading to US for NBLxNBA series


With the regular season for the world’s top basketball league, the NBA, set to tip off on October 24, a series of preseason clashes will be held against teams in the Australian NBL.

Starting on October 11, the Utah Jazz, Toronto Raptors, Portland Trail Blazers, and Washington Wizards will host the Cairns Taipans and the New Zealand Breakers for four games.

This is the fifth time in seven years that NBL teams will participate in the NBA preseason, with last year marking a historic first.

The Adelaide 36ers became the first Australian team to beat an NBA team in the preseason tournament, defeating the Phoenix Suns 134-121 in a high-scoring affair.

NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said that victory had elevated the profile of the NBLxNBA tournament.

“With the Adelaide 36ers having defeated the Phoenix Suns last year, we know these four games will generate great interest and anticipation in Australia, the US and Canada,” Loeliger said.

“The connection and relationship between the NBL and NBA are constantly growing and evolving, and these preseason meetings are a definite highlight in the calendar.”

The Taipans, who will be making their NBA preseason debut, will face the Wizards on Wednesday, October 11, at Capital One Arena, followed by a matchup against the Raptors on Monday, October 16, at Scotiabank Arena.

“This is monumental for Cairns – not just for our club, but for our city,” Taipans CEO Mark Beecroft said.

“We cannot wait to take the Taipans franchise to the US and Canada for the first time.

“Our team has a growing history of fostering NBA-quality talent, and we’re excited to have three players that will be declaring for next year’s NBA Draft participate in these games.

“They will represent Far North Queensland well, as will the rest of our roster.”

Australian Boomers star Xavier Cooks, a two-time NBL champion with the Sydney Kings and the 2023 NBL MVP, will face the Taipans as a member of the Wizards.

The Breakers, who last participated in the NBA preseason in 2019, will play their fourth and fifth NBA preseason games when they visit the Trail Blazers on October 11 at Moda Center and the Jazz on October 17 at Vivint Arena.

The Trail Blazers feature Boomers star Matisse Thybulle and former Breakers player Rayan Rupert, the 43rd overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, who helped the Breakers reach the 2023 NBL Championship Series.

Rupert is the fifth player from NBL Next Stars – the NBL’s player development program for top prospects – to be drafted directly from the NBL into the NBA, following LaMelo Ball (Charlotte Hornets), R.J. Hampton (most recently with the Detroit Pistons) and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Josh Giddey and Ousmane Dieng.

“The Breakers have become the benchmark globally for developing future NBA talent and we can’t wait to play against former Breaker Next Star Rayan Rupert,” said Breakers owner Matt Walsh.

“We are excited to continue the tradition of participating in the NBLxNBA.”

Heading into the 2023-2024 NBA season, the Boston Celtics are $5.50 title favourites with top sports bookmakers, while the Washington Wizards ($501), Utah Jazz ($276), Portland Trail Blazers ($276) and Toronto Raptors ($101) are all paying massive odds.

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