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Photo Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports.
Photo Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports.

NBA G League to have first Latin American team

The Mexico City Capitanes will officially debut at the start of the 2021-22 season in November.

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The NBA G League will officially have its first Latin American expansion team as the 2021-22 season kicks off later this fall.

The Capitanes de Ciudad de México (Mexico City Captains) will become the first team in the league based outside the United States and Canada, but instead in Mexico.

However, due to international travel concerns pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Capitanes will remain in the United States and play its home games in Fort Worth, Texas, and other U.S. cities when the regular season tips off. The original plan was to play its home games in the Gimnasio Juan de la Barrera in Mexico City. 

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

This isn’t the first time the pandemic has caused a shift in the team’s plans.  

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver originally announced the addition of the Capitanes as the G League’s 29th franchise in December 2019. 

“Bringing an NBA G League team to Mexico City is a historic milestone for the NBA which demonstrates our commitment to basketball fans in Mexico and across Latin America,” said Silver in 2019. “As the first G League franchise based outside of the U.S. and Canada, we look forward to welcoming Capitanes to the NBA family.”

Gilberto Hernández, Capitanes co-owner added: “This is a landmark moment not only for our organization, but for the game of basketball and our passionate fans in Mexico.”

The plan was for the team to officially make its G League debut during the 2020-21 season; however, it was delayed due to the pandemic, and the team did not take part in “The Bubble” at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex. 

Despite not yet being able to play in front of its home fans in Mexico, the goal of the team remains the same. 

"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 wrote in a statement.

The Capitanes were originally founded in 2017, and were part of the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional, the top professional basketball league in Mexico. The team marked the first professional team from Mexico City in a decade.

The team will officially make its G League debut on Nov. 5 against the Memphis Hustle. 

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