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Posted: Friday, December 27, 2013 4:30 am

FORT HOOD — More than 50 soldiers traveled to Dallas on Thursday aboard the Mavs Express bus to see two Texas NBA teams battle it out.

The Dallas Mavericks sent the bus to pick up soldiers outside the USO Fort Hood and take them to watch the team face one of its biggest rivals — the San Antonio Spurs.

The entire trip, including pizza from Domino’s, was free for the troops.

In total, the team gave out about 400 tickets to soldiers, active-duty family members and families of fallen service members.

Season ticket holders, coaches and players donated the tickets, said Ryan Moran, community relations manager for the Mavs.

“This is one of our big rival games,” he said. “It’s nice to provide (tickets) to some of those local Texas heroes.”

Many of the soldiers boarding the bus Thursday afternoon were unable to see their families this Christmas.

While going to the game doesn’t replace that, it’s still a great opportunity, said Spc. Codi Stump, a Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers representative in 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

“I haven’t been to an NBA game,” he said.

“It’s great to get an experience like this.”

As soldiers boarded the bus, they were greeted by local USO Director Robin Crouse.

“It’s the perfect way to say thank you to the troops who couldn’t go home for the holidays,” she said.

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