Magic Will Face Flamengo in Preseason in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
By John Denton
April 16, 2015
ORLANDO – In a move that should allow them to further grow their fan base in South America – more specifically Brazil – the Orlando Magic have reached an agreement to play a preseason game in the sports-crazed country in October.
The NBA announced on Thursday that the Magic will face Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Oct. 17 as part of NBA Global Games Rio 2015. It will be the second matchup in as many seasons between the Magic and Flamengo – champions of the Brazilian Pro-Basketball Tournament and FIBA’s Intercontinental Cup – as Orlando won 106-88 at the Amway Center on Oct. 15, 2014.
A Magic squad loaded with dynamic young talent in Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon will be playing a game outside of the U.S. and Canada for just the fifth time in its 26-year history. The Magic have played previously in Japan, China, London and Mexico City and will now hit a target market in Brazil.
A record 62 million people visited Orlando and surrounding areas of Central Florida last year, with a large segment of those tourists being Brazilians. The Magic have long seen Brazil as a market from which it can draw new fans. The Magic sent a delegation of representatives – including two lead executives – to Brazil last fall to cultivate corporate partnerships and an emerging fan following in the country. Now, the Magic will be playing a game in Brazil for the first time in franchise history.
``We look forward to representing the Central Florida community and the NBA by showcasing our great community and our team,’’ Magic CEO Alex Martins said in a release. ``Brazil has been a tremendous market for the Orlando Magic and Central Florida and this trip will certainly add to the partnership we have cultivated, especially as it relates to the tourism segment of our business and community. We were excited to host Flamengo last year in the Amway Center and witnessed first-hand the passion of Brazilian basketball fans who attended the game. We are certainly looking forward with great excitement to this opportunity.’’
This is the NBA’s third straight year of playing games in Brazil.
``The popularity of basketball is greater than ever and Global Games Rio 2015 is a huge part of our continued dedication to growing the game across the globe,’’ NBA Commissioer Adam Silver said in a release. ``We are proud to bring the one of a kind NBA experience to our fans in Brazil for a third consecutive year, and to have the honor of competing against one of the top Brazilian teams in one of the world’s most magnificent cities.’’
Flamengo is led by former NBA players Brazilian Marquinhos (New Orleans Hornets, 2006-07) and Argentine Walter Herrmann (Charlotte Bobcats, 2006-07; Detroit Pistons, 2007-09). Flamengo just finished the NBB’s qualifying round and is looking for its fourth Brazilian championship title (2008-09, 2012-13 and 2013-14).
``We are very proud to represent the ‘Liga Nacional de Basquete’ on this historic event that will celebrate the alliance between Brazilian basketball and the NBA,’’ Flamengo Vice-President of Olympic Sports Alexandre Póvoa said. ``This game solidifies Flamengo’s internationalization process, which began with winning the Americas’ Championship League and FIBA’s Intercontinental Cup, followed by becoming the first Latin American team to compete in three NBA preseason games in the U.S., and now reaching its pinnacle with the realization of this game against the Orlando Magic in our home. Flamengo fans and basketball lovers are already invited to our action-packed celebration on Oct. 17.’’