The second iteration of the NBA Abu Dhabi 2023 Games was off to yet another raucous start as the UAE populace drove in numbers to catch a glimpse of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Dallas Mavericks taking on one another.
The recital of anthems, American and UAE, which set the ball rolling on Gameday 1 welcomed the hordes of fans, who were counting down the minutes to the highly-anticipated jump ball.
The Megatron spat out a highlight reel of the much loved Mavs, as the crowd erupted to show their support for their star man Luka Doncic, who had an incredible game.
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Josh Green, James Hardy, Derek Lively II, Grant Williams and Doncic started the game for the Dallas franchise as Jason Kidd attempted to make amends following their Game 1 loss.
The Timberwolves, who began the encounter with Mike Conley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Ruby Gobert, Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns, entered to the wolf howl.
Williams and Gobert thanked the gathering ahead of the game for turning up in the thousands, just as they did in the first fixture.
Wolves mascot Crunch got the crowd going with a steady tempo precession, which got the supporters stomping their feet in unison.
Doncic delighted the crowd by opening the scoring with a shot from outside the paint, thus putting up 3 points on the board for the Mavs to start the night.
The first timeout of the opening quarter was called with the scores 10-8, in favour of the Wolves, and a skill challenge was on show. Young girls dribbled past cardboard cutouts before passing the ball into a upstanding net, after which they had to pick up another ball placed close by and lay it up on the net across the wood.
The Mavs levelled the scores after the short interval as Doncic sunk two free throws, but the Wolves pulled clear before the second timeout of the opening quarter.
The Maverick entertainers added some glitz to the intermission as they thrilled fans with they awe inspiring choreography of hip hop moves.
The opening quarter ended with the Wolves up by 9 points at 29-20. A Tissot shooting challenge kept the fans entertained at the break.
The second quarter was highlighted by a Gobert slam dunk that shook the board right before the first timeout was called.
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In attendance was former French football maverick Patrice Evra, dressed in his signature eccentric fashion choice, which was complete with a deep red pair of sunglasses.
The slam squad kept the crowd entertained before the players went back at it again to finish the second quarter which ended with the Wolves in a position of clear advantage at 53-43.
The third quarter began on the back of an elegant mid-game break, and the Wolves asserted their will in terms of not conceding the lead they had built in the entertaining opening half, as they held on to the lead despite valiant efforts from the Mavs.
Mascots with flags came to the front before the conclusive portion of the fixture in the Middle Eastern nation with shirt bazookas, slinging merch into the crowd to get the crowd roaring yet again, just as it did in during the previous breaks.
At the end of the day, the Timberwolves ensured they’d fly from Abu Dhabi unbeaten, heads held high as they earned a 104-96 win over the Mavs and completed the double.