Bobby Portis has promised a “great experience” for all concerned when his Milwaukee Bucks take on the Atlanta Hawks in two pre-season games in Abu Dhabi this week.
Portis was speaking ahead of the 2021 NBA champions' double-header against the Hawks at Etihad Arena on Yas Island. The first match of the 2022 NBA Abu Dhabi Games takes place Thursday with the second match on Saturday.
The Bucks centre said he was looking forward to playing in front of new fans.
“This is a great experience just to be a part of the whole thing and to be a part of the two teams playing their first NBA games at a new venue and in front of a new audience,” Portis said in a Zoom roundtable conference on Sunday.
“I’m just looking forward to this experience. This is something new as I have never been to Abu Dhabi but only heard about good things and obviously we want fans to enjoy the NBA games.
“I’m bringing my mum as well just for the two of us to be together and enjoy this new experience,” he added.
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Portis, 27, believes taking basketball's lead league overseas also benefits its players and that he personally is looking forward to visiting the UAE capital.
“Like I said earlier, I never have been to this part of the world before but I heard a lot about this place, and just to have the chance to experience it’s going to be great,” he said.
“Basketball is definitely a sport that brings everybody together and for us to give you guys the opportunity of a great experience of the NBA.
“Honestly we [Porter's family] didn’t know much about Abu Dhabi before we knew we were coming over there but now as time has gone we are starting to learn different things about the city,” he explained.
“We definitely can’t wait to get over there and see it and experience the skyline of Abu Dhabi and the different culture. Life is all about experiences anyway. To play basketball and learn about new experiences is great for me.”
Portis joined the Bucks in 2020 and helped them win the NBA Finals the following year. The former Chicago Bulls player says he is confident the team has what it takes to reclaim the title.
“My role in the team is essentially just to be myself. To bring energy to the game, bring the high level of play and give back to the game what everyone has worked for, which is to be the champions again,” he said.
“It’s a great experience to play in a NBA Finals,” he added. “As kids we watch it each and every year. It’s a lifetime experience to have your close friends and my mum crying when we won the NBA title. Hope we can do it again.”
Portis said the Bucks use pre-season "to build on the good habits to move forward" and the games in Abu Dhabi will give the players the chance to "fine tune everyone’s role in the team".
The most important aspect, he added, was to get everyone healthy.
“If you see the winners in the past 10 years it has been the healthiest teams that had the most chemistry on their side. It’s all about peaking at the right time when you play a team sport. Everybody’s role has to fit to the puzzle.”