JOHANNESBURG - Team World remain undefeated in their annual battle with Team Africa, but the spectators here and particularly those watching on-line or on TV throughout the African continent were the real winners as yet another edition of the NBA Africa Game passed successfully.
Forget the 96-92 scoreline to the visitors, this was an evening in which basketball and in particular the NBA showed off what proper razzmatazz is. Lights, colour, too much sound and inflatable mascots were the order of the evening as a proper American show came to town. Superstars like Joel Embiid, and hot-shooting Harrison Barnes from Team World, treated a packed venue to dribbles, dunks and some smooth three-pointing shooting.
The organisers - which included a hefty group of 400 visitors from the USA - did an impressive job of ensuring the Sun Arena, which has hosted music concerts, will soon host a food festival and comedy gigs, looked like something resembling Madison Square Garden.
The whole event had that distinctive NBA feel to it, and clearly fans know their teams; judging by the tops on display in the crowd, the LA Lakers have a healthy fanbase here (the Lebron James effect), but the arena was dotted with plenty of Golden State Warriors tops - mostly Steph Curry jerseys, some Boston Celtics gear, a couple of Oklahoma City Thunder colours and one sorry soul in a New York Knicks top, that still harked back to the days of Carmelo Anthony, a special guest at the game.
Early on Saturday NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, said the organisation was aiming to leave a lasting footprint on the continent by starting up a Pan-African League. It’s a reflection of the successful development programme, Basketball Without Borders, which has produced a staggering amount of young talent in Africa, and that there is sufficient talent for a league on the continent.
"One of the opportunities we're exploring is the development of a Pan-African basketball league. It's still in its very early stages; the arena infrastructure is not yet in place to support a full-fledged league,” said Silver
"But as we look out over the next decade, over the continent, at the economic development, the number of strong economies, the increasing interest in basketball, we think there is a real opportunity to do something like that.”
Saturday evening at the Sun Arena, only reinforced that.