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London set for NBA showdown as Toronto meet New Jersey

New Jersey Nets v Toronto Raptors
Venue: London O2 Arena Date: 4 & 5 March
Coverage: Live on BBC 5 live Sports Extra from 1945 GMT on Friday and Saturday

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Raptors star 'honoured' to bring NBA to London

New Jersey Nets will take on Toronto Raptors in London on Friday and Saturday in the first regular-season NBA games to be held in Europe.

The double-header at the O2 Arena is aimed at raising the sport's profile in Britain ahead of the London Olympics.

Each team will feature international stars, with the Nets led by new signing Deron Williams of the United States.

The Raptors line-up includes Italian Andrea Bargnani, Spain guard Jose Calderon and Brazilian Leandro Barbosa.

"I'm very excited about this trip," said Toronto guard Calderon, a member of the Spain team that won silver in Beijing.

NBA hopeful of London franchise

"These are two important games for us, and games have never been played in Europe before, so it will be nice to be close to home."

New Jersey have won 17 and lost 43 of their games so, and coach Avery Johnson said: "I think this is great for our guys. For us, we've not had a lot of smiles this year in terms of victories.

"We're redeveloping our team, but this is a situation that can put a smile on our guys' faces because this is something special."

New Jersey and Toronto are not among the NBA's strongest teams but both have an international flavour.

Toronto has a long history of shipping in talent from the continent, while Italian Maurizio Gherardini is their assistant general manager.

The Nets are owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and played in China in pre-season as part of a globe-trotting campaign.

Fiba offer hope to 2012 GB basketball teams

NBA commissioner David Stern is determined to boost the popularity of basketball in Britain.

On Monday, the NBA agreed to play a series of games in Manchester, including a warm-up match for Team USA in 2012 ahead of the defence of their Olympic title.

Hosting the regular season matches may also help GB basketball's bid for its teams to play at London 2012.

World basketball's governing body Fiba will decide on 13 March if GB should be given host nation places at the Games for its men's and women's teams.



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see also
BOA backs GB Basketball for 2012
02 Mar 11 |  Basketball
NBA stars to play in Manchester
28 Feb 11 |  Basketball
2012 Olympics schedule revealed
15 Feb 11 |  London 2012


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