Basketball stars to headline first NBA exhibition game in Africa

2015-04-23 12:39

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Tall, athletic Africans have long been a fixture of basketball courts in the United States, but is Africa ready for basketball?

The National Basketball Association will stage its first ever exhibition game in Africa later this year as part on an ongoing effort to grow the game on a global scale, the league said yesterday.

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul will captain Team World and Miami Heat forward Luol Deng, who was born in South Sudan, will take charge of Team Africa in the August 1 game to be played at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg.

“The NBA has worked hard to grow the game of basketball in Africa, and I am excited to take this next step of playing our first game on the continent,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.

“Our players have been tremendous partners in this effort, and all of us look forward to sharing the authentic NBA experience and the values of our game with fans in Africa.”

Team Africa will comprise players from Africa and second generation African players while Team World will be selected from players from the rest of the world.

The game, to be broadcast live in South Africa and other African countries, will be played in support of Boys and Girls Clubs of South Africa, SOS Children’s Villages Association of South Africa and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

“I am extremely proud to be a part of the NBA’s first game in Africa,” said twice NBA All-Star Deng.

“Coming from South Sudan and having participated in the Basketball without Borders Africa camps in Johannesburg previously, I am truly honoured to be part of this historic event.”

Eight-time All-Star Paul said: “It will be my first visit to the continent, and I cannot wait to contribute to the growth of the game on and off the court.”

More than 35 players from Africa have played in the NBA since Hall of Famer and twice NBA champion Hakeem Olajuwon was drafted in 1984. The league has hosted events on the continent since 1993 and in 2010 opened its first office in Johannesburg.

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