Spurs-Timberwolves to play first NBA game in Mexico since 1997, Hawks-Nets to play in London

USA TODAY Sports

The NBA will play a pair of regular season games outside of the U.S. and Canada next season, with the Spurs and Timberwolves bringing NBA basketball back to Mexico City and the league returning to London.

The NBA announced a pair of games in London and Mexico City for the 2013-14 season, the first time the league has ever played games in a pair of countries besides the United States and Canada, and the first time Mexico has hosted regular season action in over 15 years.

The Spurs and Timberwolves will play in Mexico City Arena on Dec. 4, while the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets will play in London's O2 Arena on Jan. 16.

The NBA has played several preseason games in Mexico, including a Hornets-Magic game this past October, but hadn't played a meaningful game south of the border since Dec. 6, 1997, when the Rockets beat the Mavericks, 108-106, in Mexico's Palacio De Los Deportes. This time, they'll be playing in a brand new arena, a 22,500-seat building opened last February. The league once again opted to send a Texas team to Mexico City, this past season's Western Conference Champion Spurs, although it's nearly 1,000 miles from San Antonio to Mexico City. The league obviously wants to pique interest in the sport in the soccer-crazy nation of 112 million. The country has only produced three NBA players in its history, with just Milwaukee's Gustavo Ayon active.

It's the second straight season the league has played a regular season game in London, with the Knicks beating the Pistons, 102-87, this past January in the stadium that hosted the Olympic basketball tournament. The logistic issue is jetlag: while several teams have taken European trips during the preseason, slotting a game with a six-hour time difference into a team's regular season schedule is somewhat tough. The league allowed both New York and Detroit three rest days before and after their London game last season. It's the second straight year a team that hails from New York City will end up playing across the pond.

Since the rest of the NBA schedule hasn't yet been released, it's not clear which team will give up a home game to play overseas, but judging from recent attendance figures, it will probably be Minnesota and Atlanta.

The league also has a full slate of overseas preseason games planned, including games in the Philippines, Brazil, and Taiwan..

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