Breakers heading back to US for NBA pre-season games

New Zealand Breakers owner Matt Walsh has welcomed his team's latest round of exhibition games against NBA opposition as another opportunity to compete with the best in world basketball.

The Breakers will take time out of a busy 2024-25 NBL schedule to renew acquaintances with the the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder during the NBA pre-season in October.

The games, on October 5 and 11 (AEST) respectively, will mark the Jazz's sixth pre-season meeting against an NBL team and the Thunder's fourth.

It will be the sixth time in eight years NBL representatives have travelled to the US for exhibition games against NBA outfits.

The Breakers, who have been NBL champions four times, will be playing their sixth and seventh games against NBA opposition, having first met the Phoenix Suns in 2019.

"It has been tradition for the Breakers to fly stateside and compete against the very best in the NBA, and we are proud to continue our association with the best basketball league in the world," Walsh said.

"We look forward to flying to the USA in October and resuming our rivalry with the Jazz and Thunder."

The Thunder are led by two-time NBA All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and feature former NBL Next Star Ousmane Dieng, but Australia's Josh Giddey has been traded to the Chicago Bulls.

The Jazz have 2023 NBA All-Star Lauri Markkanen and 2021 NBA sixth man of the year Jordan Clarkson on their books.

NBL teams have punched above their weight on previous US visits, with the Adelaide 36ers claiming a huge upset win over the Suns in 2022.

NBL head of basketball operations Vince Crivelli described the exhibition games as a "visual representation of the strong connection we have with the NBA".

"These games also continue to position our teams and athletes alongside the very best our sport has to offer globally," Crivelli said.

"Our relationship with the NBA continues to grow and evolve, and we look forward to working on more exciting initiatives in the future.

"The Breakers are a wonderful organisation with a proud history of success and have really embraced these games, and we wish them all the best against the Jazz and Thunder."

New Zealand this month named Finland's Petteri Koponen as their new head coach, following two seasons under Mody Maor.

The Breakers are scheduled to open their NBL campaign against the Brisbane Bullets on September 21.

They will play the opening two rounds of the regular season and sit out the next two while in the US, before resuming with another game against the Bullets on October 17.

NEW ZEALAND'S NBA PRE-SEASON GAMES:

* Breakers v Jazz, Delta Center, October 5

* Breakers v Thunder, BOK Center, October 11

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