Wizards to play Warriors in NBA Japan Games


The Washington Wizards will travel to Saitama, Japan this fall to play two preseason games against the Golden State Warriors, as they take part in the NBA Japan Games 2022 in the home country of Rui Hachimura.

The two games are set for Sept. 30 and Oct. 2, as the NBA continues its annual exhibition event following a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus. Washington last played overseas in Jan. of 2019 when it beat the New York Knicks in London.

Hachimura will be a key focus of the games between the Wizards and Warriors as the first Japanese-born player ever drafted in the NBA. He was a star for Team Japan in the Tokyo Olympics last summer and has become an ambassador for the sport.

"I'm very much looking forward to playing in Japan as a member of the Wizards," Hachimura said. "I'll continue to work hard to enliven Japanese basketball."

Hachimura has played for the Wizards the past three seasons since they drafted him ninth overall in 2019. He has helped make the franchise very popular in Japan and that is likely to be on display during the events.

“We are so honored to represent the NBA and the wonderful game of basketball in front of an audience of Japanese fans," Wizards chairman Ted Leonsis said in a press release. "We are particularly excited to watch Rui Hachimura play in front of his fellow Japanese citizens. We were proud to welcome him into the DC Family nearly three years ago as a dynamic young talent and have only seen his growth as a player since."

The Wizards will go up against the Warriors and two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, who is among the league's most popular players internationally. Since Curry was drafted, the Warriors have played two sets of preseason games on the continent of Asia, both times in China, in 2013 and 2017. Like the Wizards, they have never played in Japan.

"It's going to be an honor for me and my teammates to play a couple games there along with the Washington Wizards and Rui Hachimura, who is an amazing young athlete in this league that is destined for great things," Curry said.

In addition to their regular season game in London, the Wizards have played preseason games in Brazil, Spain, Germany, Mexico and the Bahamas. Back when they were known as the Bullets, Washington played the first game between an NBA team and an international opponent in Israel in 1978.

Hachimura is one of many international players on the Wizards' roster, though the cast could change via free agency and trades this offseason. Other countries represented on the Wizards include Latvia (Kristaps Porzingis), Israel (Deni Avdija), Brazil (Raul Neto) and the Czech Republic (Tomas Satoransky).

"As an international player, I love to see the game grow globally," Porzingis said. "I'm extremely excited for our NBA Japan game later this year. I look forward to seeing you all there."

They also hope to have three-time All-Star Bradley Beal on the roster, though it depends on what happens with his potential free agency this summer. Beal shared his remarks at the introductory press conference on Monday night.

"I'm super excited to come back to Japan once again for our game against the Golden State Warriors. I hope to see you all in person real soon," he said.

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