JOHANNESBURG - Somewhere in between the appreciation for the NBA legends, some flashy dunks and dribbles, a performance by Cassper Nyovest, and an inflatable mascot that went flat, what was supposed to be an exhibition game turned into something akin to a real one.
The third edition of the NBA Africa Game was once more a success and the quality of the play certainly made the hefty ticket prices worthwhile for the more than 8000 fans, which included Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, who packed the Sun Arena in Tshwane on Saturday.
“It was physical from the start,” said the event’s most high profile star, Joel Embiid. “We had the mentality we wanted to win. The play-offs is more intense definitely, but as far as regular season games go that felt quite similar. That’s what I like.”
The 2.13m, 113kg centre may like those types of affairs, but the physicality certainly caught some of the other participants off-guard. “Yeah, I was a little surprised by the intensity,” said Team World point guard Khris Middleton.
Ultimately Team World claimed a third consecutive victory, 96-92, in the event, leaving Embiid miffed, but everyone from Kolisi, TV star Pearl Thusi, comedian Loyiso Gola and legendary former players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Dikembe Mutombo, with smiles on their faces and a life-time of memories.