NBA stars ex­cited for some hang time in South Africa

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MATSHELANE MAMABOLO

YOU KNOW a match is a big deal when the play­ers use words such as ‘thrilled’, ‘can’t wait’, ‘dream come true’, and ‘ex­cited’, as they look ahead to it.

Su­per­stars in their own right and play­ing in one of the big­gest sport­ing leagues in the world, the NBA stars are nev­er­the­less still like kids in a candy store when it comes to the NBA Africa Game.

An­nounced yes­ter­day as joint­cap­tains of the Africa Team that will take on the World Team for only the sec­ond time on African soil, both Thabo Se­folosha and Luol Deng could not hide their ela­tion.

“Hav­ing South African roots, it’s a dream come true to re­turn to South Africa. There are so many tal­ented African play­ers, and it will be an hon­our to lead them,” said Swiss na­tive Se­folosha whose fa­ther is South African.

“I’m thrilled to be com­ing back to Jo­han­nes­burg to lead Team Africa along­side Thabo. The first NBA Africa Game in 2015 was a lot of fun, and it will be a priv­i­lege to play in front of our African fans again,” said Los An­ge­les Lak­ers for­ward Deng.

The game is sched­uled for Au­gust 5 at the Tick­et­pro Dome and the or­gan­is­ers an­tic­i­pate a full house with tick­ets sell­ing fast on tick­et­pro.co.za.

And with good rea­son too, for what bas­ket­ball en­thu­si­ast would want to miss out on the op­por­tu­nity of see­ing a myr­iad of the game’s su­per­stars live in his own back­yard.

Lin­ing up along­side Se­folosha and Deng for the Africans will be Or­lando Magic’s Bis­mack Biy­ombo.

“It was an hon­our and priv­i­lege to play in the first NBA game in Africa in 2015. I’m look­ing for­ward to an­other great game in Au­gust,” he said.

Their op­po­nents in the World Team are sim­i­larly ex­cited.

“I heard many great things from play­ers around the league who trav­elled to South Africa in 2015 for the first NBA Africa Game and Bas­ket­ball with­out Bor­ders. I can’t wait to suit up for Team World in Jo­han­nes­burg this sum­mer,” said Port­land Trail Blaz­ers guard CJ McCol­lum.

For Dal­las Mavericks for­ward Dirk Now­itzki, the pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence of the Africa Game made the re­turn in­evitable.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited to rep­re­sent Team World in the sec­ond NBA Africa Game this sum­mer. I also look for­ward to re­turn­ing to South Africa after tak­ing part in the Bas­ket­ball with­out Bor­ders Africa camp eight years ago. It’s great to see how the game is grow­ing across the con­ti­nent, and I’m hon­oured to be a part of this his­toric event.”

The 2017 game, which will take place fol­low­ing the 15th edi­tion of Bas­ket­ball with­out Bor­ders (BWB) Africa, will be played in sup­port of UNICEF, the Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion and SOS Chil­dren’s Vil­lages South Africa.

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