Sports

Virus forces Mexico City G League team to Texas

The NBA G League announced its first Latin American expansion team, the Mexico City Capitanes, will debut this November amid a format change to the competition’s schedule.

Because of concerns stemming from international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Capitanes will play their home games in Fort Worth, Texas. Last season, the NBA’s Toronto Raptors experienced a similar fate, forgoing home games in Canada for a temporary stay in Tampa, Florida.

“Our adventure in the NBA G League will begin outside of Mexico,” the Capitanes said in a statement. “We will play all of next season’s home games in the United States and far from our people.”

Formerly a part of Mexico’s top domestic league, the LNBP, the Capitanes were originally scheduled to join the G League for the 2020-21 season.

“As the first G League franchise based outside of the U.S. and Canada, we look forward to welcoming Capitanes to the NBA family,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver in his announcement of the expansion in 2019.

After the COVID-19 pandemic altered the sports landscape around the world, the Mexico City squad sat out the abridged G League season, encased completely at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Bay Lake, Florida.

Amidst the fluctuating rates of infection in countries around the world, as well as shifting regulations governing international travel, the Capitanes will play their initial slate of home games away from Mexico City. The team will officially debut on Nov. 5 against the Memphis Hustle, at the Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi.

“Today, more than ever, we want to promote Mexican and Latin American sports, and write our name in the NBA G League history book,” the Capitanes said.

The statement also revealed the team’s ownership group mulled sitting out a second consecutive season, though ultimately it “was not a viable option.”

The Capitanes are one of three franchises debuting this season. The Motor City Cruise and the Birmingham Squadron, affiliates of the Detroit Pistons and New Orleans Pelicans, respectively, will also start play in November. The Capitanes are not affiliated with a NBA franchise.

All 28 G League teams will feature at The Showcase Cup, a 14-game tournament which ends in a single-elimination phase in the first part of the season schedule. After a champion is crowned, a 36-game regular season is set to begin on December 27, assuring each team a 50-game season. The G League finals are set to begin in April 2022.

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