Exclusive: Atlanta Hawks star excited for London showpiece
Atlanta Hawks star Al Horford looking forward to NBA showdown with Brooklyn Nets in London
Atlanta Hawks centre Al Horford is looking forward to returning to London to face the Brooklyn Nets in their regular season game next year.
The All-Star was in London last weekend attending the NBA 3X event at Ducketts Common, and told GiveMeSport he can't wait to represent the NBA in the capital after last year's Knicks-Pistons showpiece.
"I'm very excited to have the opportunity to come to London to play a regular season game. I think it means a lot to the Atlanta Hawks and to the NBA to be able to be here and play.
"It's right in the middle of our season."
The Hawks star enjoyed his best campaign in the NBA last term, averaging a double-double for the first time in his career.
And Horford put that improvement - he averaged 17.4-points-per-game and 10.2-rebounds-per-game in the 2012/13 season - to hard work on the practice court.
"For me, it was a matter of all the work I'd put in the off-season and I feel like that it translated onto the court," Horford told GiveMeSport.
"And I was able to have such a good season."
The Hawks organisation made the playoffs last year, but crashed out in the first round to the Indiana Pacers.
They've changed their coach - former-San Antonio Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer has replaced Larry Drew - and Horford wants to keep the progression going.
"For sure [I want to keep getting better]. One of the things I want to do is to keep improving my game. And hopefully have a better year this year."
Improvement for the Hawks would be bettering their 44-38 record from last season. Good enough for a sixth seed then, Horford and co came unstuck against eventual Eastern Conference Finalists the Indiana Pacers.
Can they go one better next year?
"If you look at it realistically, we would like to make the playoffs and push past the first round," Horford continued.
"But the primary focus is the get to that position. I've been lucky enough to make it every year I've been in the NBA but you know, obviously you want something more than that.
"So the focus is to have a great regular season and go from there."
Part of that regular season schedule sees the Hawks stop off in London - the fourth regular season contest in as many years to be played in the city.
Their opponents, the Brooklyn Nets, have been extremely busy in the off-season putting together a rotation capable of challenging for the NBA Championship.
NBA superstars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce join Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Deron Williams to form a formidable starting five for the New York-based team.
Al Horford and the Atlanta Hawks will play the Brooklyn Nets at The O2 on January 16 as part of the NBA Global Games 2014. Tickets go on sale in October. For more information go to NBA UK Facebook and follow @ NBAUK