NBA fans in Japan can start the countdown.
On Monday, the NBA and Rakuten, Inc. announced that the Toronto Raptors will play a pair of preseason games in Saitama City, Japan in October 2019. The Raptors will face the Houston Rockets in a pair of games slated to take place Tuesday, Oct. 8 and Thursday, Oct. 10 at the Saitama Super Arena.
These games will be the league's 13th and 14th games played in Japan.
"The NBA has a long history in Japan, along with a passionate and knowledgeable fanbase," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.
"With one of the world's largest economies and a thriving sports culture, we see enormous opportunity for growth in Japan, and we are pleased to partner with Rakuten to continue our tradition of bringing the live, authentic game experience to Japanese fans."
Between 1990 and 2003, the league has staged 12 regular-season games in Saitama City, Tokyo and Yokohama. The match-up between the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz played in Tokyo on Nov. 2, 1990 was the first regular-season game played outside of North America by a U.S. Sports league.
This will be Toronto's first time visiting Japan, and the second visit for the Rockets, who previously visited in 1992 for a pair of regular-season opening games in Yokohama.
"The Raptors are proud to represent the NBA, Canada, and the city of Toronto as we head to Tokyo in October," Raptors President Masai Ujiri said.
"You have only to look at our organization to know that we truly believe basketball is a global game. We come from all over the world, and we are all connected through the love of our sport. We are looking forward to sharing that with basketball fans in Japan."
Toronto's current roster features five international players including Gasol (Spain), OG Anunoby (England), Chris Boucher (Canada), Serge Ibaka (Republic of Congo), and Pascal Siakam (Cameroon).
Rockets Chief Executive Officer Tad Brown also spoke to Houston's appreciation of the NBA's global reach.
"The Houston Rockets are honored to be chosen to represent the NBA in its long anticipated return to Japan," Brown said. "Our organization has a great appreciation for our global fan base, and we enthusiastically embrace the NBA's efforts to grow the game Internationally. We look forward to seeing our fans in Tokyo this fall and participating in the Japan Games."
The NBA Japan Games 2019 Presented by Rakuten will be supported by a roster of marketing and merchandising partners.
The games will be distributed live in Japan and reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories on television, digital and social media platforms. In addition to the games being played, the league and its partners will also conduct interactive fan activities and be active in NBA Cares community outreach events.
Tickets will go on sale at a later date, but fans can register their interest in tickets and gain access to presale information by visiting nbaevents.com/japangames. Fans can also join the conversation by using #NBAJapanGames, #NBAJapanGames2019, #NBAJP, and #NBARakuten hashtags on their preferred social media platforms.