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NEW YORK (AP)WNBA teams will play a record 36 games in the regular season next year.

The season will tip-off May 6 and all 12 teams will play over the opening weekend. The season will end on Aug. 14, followed by the postseason, using a new format that will have the top eight teams seeded one through eight. All 12 teams will play on the regular season’s final day.

The early end date is due to the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup that begins in September in Australia.

The WNBA All-Star Game will be July 10. and the second annual Commissioner’s Cup championship game will take place July 26.

”The 36-game schedule will provide fans greater opportunities to see the best players in the world compete at the highest level,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. ”And year two of the Commissioner’s Cup brings added incentive to the first half of the season for players and teams, while offering fans conference rivalry competition through which to support their favorite teams.”

The defending champion Chicago Sky will open their season against the Los Angeles Sparks on May 6.

For the second consecutive season, teams will play a ”series” model with franchises playing consecutive games in the same city to cut down on travel.

The WNBA played 22 games in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season. Last year teams played 32 games. The teams had played 34 games between 2003-19.

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