Rockets, Raptors set for preseason play in Japan

The NBA announced Monday evening that it will be playing preseason games in Japan for the first time in more than a decade next season.

The Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors will play games on Oct. 8 and Oct. 10 at Saitama Super Arena outside Tokyo. It will mark the first time NBA teams will have played games in Japan since 2003, the last time the NBA held a regular-season game there.

From 1990 — when the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz played the first regular-season game outside North America by an American professional sports league — through 2003, the NBA played 12 regular-season games in Japan.

The addition of Japan to the NBA’s international calendar during the preseason shows a further commitment to the league’s stated goal of growing the sport outside of the U.S. The NBA will hold games in India for the first time this fall, where the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers will play one another in Mumbai on Oct. 4 and 5.

The league also will return to China for a 13th time, when the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets play in Shanghai on Oct. 10 and Shenzhen on Oct. 12.

Last month, the NBA also announced the creation of the 12-team Basketball Africa League, which will begin play in January 2020. It will mark the first time the NBA will be part of the operation of a league outside of North America.

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