CP3, Deng, Gasols arrive in Johannesburg for first NBA game in Africa
It’s wheels down in Johannesburg, South Africa, as players from Team Africa and Team World rosters are set and ready for the first NBA game played on the continent.
The game will take place Aug. 1 (9 a.m. ET) at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg. It is played in support of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of South Africa and SOS Children’s Villages Association of South Africa.
According to NBA.com, more than 35 NBA players have come from Africa since Hakeem Olajuwon was drafted in 1984. The NBA opened an office in Johannesburg in 2010.
"It’s an opportunity to be a part of history," Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal said. "We’re spreading basketball throughout the world."
Team Africa is highlighted by Luol Deng (born in South Sudan) as well as Al-Farouq Aminu (parents from Nigeria), Giannis Antetokounmpo (parents from Nigeria), Nic Batum (parent from Cameroon), Bismack Biyombo (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Boris Diaw (parent from Senegal), Gorgui Dieng (Senegal), Festus Ezeli (Nigeria), Luc Mbah a Moute (Cameroon) and Serge Ibaka (Congo), though Ibaka will not play due to injury,
They are coached by Gregg Popovich with support from Mike Budenholzer and Monty Williams and GMs Billy King and Masai Ujiri.
"For us, it means a lot. We’re finally having a game here," said Deng, captain of Team Africa. "It’s a huge step forward."
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will attend the game with NBA Africa Ambassador Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria) and NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo (Democratic Republic of the Congo) as part of the Basketball Without Borders project.