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NBA launches in-season tourney with December 9 final in Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AFP) – The NBA launched its first-ever in-season tournament yesterday, revealing the groups for the 30-team event culminating with the NBA Cup Final on December 9 in Las Vegas.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the idea had been discussed for 15 years by league officials before settling upon a format styled after European football league Cup events.

“What a perfect opportunity for a global league like the NBA,” Silver said. “It’s a perfect fit for our game.”

Silver did sound a cautionary note in hopes NBA fans would be patient at the start of the new competition.

“It takes a little bit of time to establish a new tradition,” Silver said. “All throughout sports we’re seeing new innovations and now is the time for this in-season tournament. So here we go.”

PHOTO: AFP

Six groups of five teams each, three from the Eastern Conference and three from the Western Conference, were randomly drawn based on last season’s records.

Each team will play two home and two road games in group play, facing each group rival once.

Those games will be played on Tuesdays and Fridays in November starting November 3, regular-season contests counting as tournament play, except for US Election Day on November 7.

Three group winners and the next-best team overall from each conference will advance to the eight-team knockout quarter-finals round and games on December 4-5.

Those winners will advance to the semi-finals in Vegas on December 7 with the championship match two nights later.

Each player on the NBA In-Season Tournament championship squad will receive USD500,000.

“I’m excited,” Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I think it’s going to add an element of excitement for the players and the coaches and the fans. I think it’s a great idea.”

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