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April 17, 2018

Sixers will play pair of games in China during 2018-19 NBA preseason

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041718-JoelEmbiidBenSimmons-USAToday Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and guard Ben Simmons against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Continuing what is quickly becoming a tradition of playing overseas, the Sixers will play a pair of games in China during the 2018-19 preseason, PhillyVoice has learned.

According to the team, the Sixers will be participants in the NBA China Games during the preseason for the 2018-19 campaign, with both games coming against the Dallas Mavericks. Those games – on Oct. 5 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai and Oct. 8 at the Shenzhen Universiade Center in Shenzhen – represent the first the organization will have ever played on Chinese soil.

"We pride ourselves on the unique, international culture we have created here in Philadelphia," head coach Brett Brown said in a statement. "It is something that we pay close attention to and it resonates throughout our roster, front office and staff. We are excited to bring our team to China in the fall and connect with the truly great fans of a basketball-rich country."

"Getting a chance to play all over the world has always been a dream of mine and I'm excited to play in China in October," added Ben Simmons. "I know the fans there are passionate about basketball and I'm really looking forward to the trip to Shanghai and Shenzhen."

There will, of course, be legitimate questions about how this will impact Philadelphia's preparation as they gear up for another important season following their ascent in year one of the Joel Embiid and Simmons show. There will presumably be fewer pieces to get on track next preseason compared to last year, but the possibility of a max free agent joining is very real and an organizational goal for the summer. If their best-case scenario comes to fruition, Brett Brown and his staff may ultimately have to trade off some development time for travel and "growing the game" in the preseason.

However, next year's Sixers don't have to answer questions like, "How will they use Ben Simmons?" which already puts them ahead.

The main improvement in this arrangement compared to the 2018 London game is that these games at least come when the games don't count toward the standings. Philadelphia endured a condensed second-half schedule thanks to their London trip in mid-January, and it's highly unlikely any season-ticket holder will be upset to lose a preseason home game to an international showcase.

In any case, Philadelphia's inclusion in such an event on the heels of the London trip should tell you a lot about the league's interest in promoting their young stars. Simmons and Embiid were recently revealed to have two of the most purchased jerseys in the league this season, and as departed GM Sam Hinkie once promised, the organization is more than capable of parting a few more fans — in China or otherwise — from their hard-earned money. Tapping further into the rabid Chinese fanbase will not hurt the bottom line.

Now let's see if the Sixers can take care of business on American soil before anyone starts getting too amped up about a trip to China.


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