Chris Paul headlines first NBA game in Africa


Chris Paul is going to Africa. Really he is and he is taking a bunch of NBA stars with him. The NBA will be hosting their first ever exhibition game on the continent of Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa on August 1. There will be two squads, a Team Africa squad and a Team World squad. The Africa team will only include players with a tie to Africa, while Team World will be everyone else.

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As a result that is quite the local imprint on this game. Team Africa will include Duke’s Luol Deng, Wake Forest’s Al-Farouq Aminu, Nicolas Batum of the Charlotte Hornets, and former Charlotte players Boris Diaw and Bismack Biyombo.

Team World will be captained by Wake Forest’s Chris Paul. His allies will include the Gasol brothers, but he will receive no further help from other Tobacco Road alumni. Paul is the biggest star attached to this event.

The teams will have All-Star coaching as well. Team Africa has been given Gregg Popovich to run the show with assistants Mike Budenholzer (Atlanta Hawks) and Monty Williams (recently coach of the New Orleans Pelicans). The opposing side, Team World, will get head coach Lionel Hollins and assistant Brad Stevens (Boston Celtics) as their brain trust.

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Team World has the advantage in sheer star power. Paul and the Gasols are proven NBA veterans. Marc Gasol made the All-NBA team this past year. The team will also rely on Jeff Green and Bradley Beal for perimeter firepower, but the roster is not stacked with offensive wonders.

Team Africa does not have a lot of offensive firepower either, but they do have a lot of defense and athleticism on the court. The first NBA game in Africa may be an ugly low scoring affair. Maybe that is the point. No one knows what would happen if Team Africa scores the upset over Team World. Perhaps basketball would become a stronger sport on the African continent.

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