NBA Abu Dhabi 2023: Timberwolves, Mavs, Ronaldo Fenomeno and Michael B. Jordan

A juxtaposition of a makeshift floating basketball court where scores of young players from different schools compete to prove their mettle in age-grade competitions simmering in the evening light of the bright Arabian sun as ferries gleefully sail around the floating platform. emblazoned with the NBA logo, greeted the fan who was lucky enough to stroll through the concourse of the sprawling Etihad Arena, which also featured floor-level mini-games with the mascot, who stood out with a ball-shaped mask too big to break through his head. into a dance to the delight of the little ones, who tried their luck by passing the ball through the hoof hanging on the chest of another gentleman.

An NBA pop-up store near one of the gates offered an expanded selection of Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves merchandise at a higher price.

The waterfront stadium provided organized access for pass holders to avoid congestion at the scenic location of YaS Island in the desert region.

Once inside the stadium, concession stands offered a wide variety of snacks to choose from, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, as the crowd of people made their way to their seats.

The performance began energetically with Kayla Brianna’s soulful rendition of the national anthem of the United States, home of the NBA, followed by a moving orchestral rendition of the UAE national anthem.

The crowd was in motion as DJ Shippy’s energetic notes on the console boomed from the speakers before the team mascots appeared along with the dunk team putting on an aerial spectacle.

Fans screamed about the chance to take home memorabilia straight from the court while pregame entertainers tossed merchandise into the stands.

The Mavs took the court first, going into their final set-up with a couple of shots and some dunks that shook the boards and left the crowd hungry for more. The Timberwolves then developed their own version of the setup, including agility ladders.

The teams switched gears as the buzzer sounded, signaling the 10-minute countdown to the bouncing ball. Hollywood actor Michael B. Jordan added some sparkle to the warm-up and made sure the namesake of the greatest player in the history of the game graced the floor.

As the crowd sang in unison to the 10-second countdown, the lights dimmed and the massive Megatron spat out a short video of commands to make the house jump.

Wolves coach Chris Finch started Mike Conley, Walker, Jordan, Jaden McDaniel, Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns.

The Mavs started Kyrie Irving, O-Max Prosper, Derek Lively II, Grant Williams and Luka Doncic.

Ahead of the upcoming opener, Anthony-Towns and Doncic thanked the crowd for turning out in large numbers. The Wolves started the game when they scored the first points of the game with a shot from outside the paint that slid in easily. Doncic opened the scoring for the Mavs with his second free throw.

The D-Town Mavs and Maniacs brought their iconic hip-hop style to the court during a timeout in the first quarter before Megatron replaced the image of WNBA and NBA legends Tichy and Boris Diaw who graced the court.

READ: NBA Games Abu Dhabi 2023: Kyrie Irving ‘The Bus Driver’ and a Joyful Celebration of Sports

During the second timeout, with just over 2 minutes left in the first quarter, a shooting competition was held, with the winner taking home a gold-plated Tissot watch. The first quarter ended 37-17 in favor of the Timberwolves, whose combined scoring surpassed the efforts of the Mavs, led by none other than their starter Doncic, who scored 10 of his team’s points, including a shot straight out of the circus on his way to the floor. for a foul on him inside the paint.

The Timberwolves continued their dominance in the second quarter as they appeared to be a well-rounded team heading into the season, while the Mavs began to find their feet but fell behind on the scoreboard.

A 3-point shooting contest during the second timeout of the second quarter saw participants win Dh15,000. Omri Caspi, the first Israeli athlete selected in the first round of the NBA draft before his 11-year stint on American shores, waved to the crowd as the list of celebrities in the arena was revealed.

But there was no greater presence on the indoor court than the charismatic presence of legendary Brazilian World Cup winner and Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo Nazario on the big screen. A moment of surrealism. The man who revolutionized football and inspired a generation of players to fall in love with world sport.

Back on the court, Doncic was at it again, cutting through the Wolves defense and driving the ball into the net for an unusual look on the play.

The second quarter ended 66-49 before David Garibaldi’s eccentric style of play took center stage at halftime as he delighted the crowd with his authentic portrait of Doncic.

The second half of the game ended as the teams switched sides and returned to play again after a 15-minute break.

Sean Merrian, Tim Haraway Sr., Ray Allen and the legendary Kareem Abdul Jabar took to the woods in another stellar third-quarter timeout that ended with the Mavs erasing the Wolves’ lead.

The intermission before the final quarter of the day featured an incredible dunk display by the crew of 612 Squadron, who defied gravity with their impressive aerial maneuvers.

The fourth quarter promised to be enticing, with Dallas steadily chipping away at its deficit, but the Wolves pulled away by the minute, building their lead and leaving the Mavs trailing by more than a dozen.

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The competition of skill for the Mavs jersey was a timeout test with 6 minutes remaining when another football legend appeared on the big screen: a smiling Alessandro Del Piero, dressed in a tailored Italian suit, waving, as the crowd showed their adoration for World Cup winner Azzuri.

With just over three minutes left in the match, the final timeout of the day was called with the score 109-96, and the mascots and crew pulled out a bazooka and threw the jersey into the crowd, which had fans. stretch out their arms in the hope of grabbing a piece of clothing.

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