By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL –The Chicago Bulls bested the Washington D.C. Wizards 83-81 on Saturday night during the historic first National Basketball Association (NBA) game held in South America. The preseason exhibition game begin at 6PM on Saturday at HSBC Arena located in Rio’s Zona Oeste (West Zone) neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca.
A sold-out crowd of 13,635 filled the stands of what will become the future home to the gymnastics events during the 2016 Olympics.
Between the teams, the Wizards were thought to have the advantage. Bull’s coach Tom Thibodeau had benched star player Derrick Rose for the game after pain in his surgically repaired left knee returned during Friday’s practice.
“We wanted to see where he was today, but he wasn’t as well as we would have liked,” Thibodeau said to the media. “He still had the soreness. So we anticipated giving him time off. We view our training camp as the entire month. So if he needs a day, or a couple of days we’ll do that.”
The Brazilian basketball fans were disappointed. They chanted “Rose, Rose” toward the end of the game in the hopes of the star taking to the court.
Native Brazilian Nenê Hilário should have given the Wizards a slight home court advantage as their center. Instead, some unhappy fans who fault him for not playing with Brazilian national teams, booed the player when he entered the court and during his free-throw attempts.
However, Hilário was pleased to be back in Brazil. “It is very important to return to the motherland,” he told O Globo earlier on Saturday. “It is very special to us for the NBA to be in South America. This is the result of hard work of the players in the Brazilian league.”
Many fans in attendance wore Bulls jerseys and t-shirts. Internationally recognized, The Bulls lead by basketball legend Michael Jordan, won six NBA Championship titles between 1991 and 1998.
During Saturday night’s game the Bulls led through the first half. A three-pointer made by Glen Rice, later gave the Wizards a 79-77 lead towards the end of the game. The Bulls moved back on top in the end minutes with the score of 83-81. In the game’s final seconds the Wizards tried for another three pointer to win but fell short.
“It was fantastic to have played here,” Carlos Boozer of the Bulls said. “It was great, the fans cheering [...] I’m definitely coming back to Rio.”
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