The NBA's first game in Africa ended up being an entertaining affair, with Team World pouring in 39 points in the fourth quarter to turn the game around and defeat Team Africa 101-97 to win the NBA Africa Game 2015 on Saturday.
Team Africa was comprised of players from Africa and second generation African players including Miami Heat forward Deng, and Team World was comprised of players from the rest of the world led by Los Angeles Clippers star point guard Chris Paul. Both Deng and Paul were announced as co-MVPs after the conclusion of the game.
The sold-out game was played in support of Boys & Girls Clubs of South Africa, SOS Children's Villages Association of South Africa and the Nelson Mandela Foundation and took place after three days of charitable work in the region. Players and coaches also took part in the 13th edition of Basketball without Borders Africa.
"I am extremely proud to be a part of the NBA's first game in Africa," said Deng. "Coming from South Sudan and having participated in the Basketball without Borders Africa camps in Johannesburg previously, I am truly honored to be part of this historic event."
Team Africa was led by team captain Deng (Great Britain; born in South Sudan) and also featured Al-Farouq Aminu (Portland Trail Blazers; U.S.; parents from Nigeria), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks; Greece; parents from Nigeria), Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets; France; parent from Cameroon), Bismack Biyombo (Toronto Raptors; Democratic Republic of the Congo), Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs; France; parent from Senegal), Gorgui Dieng (Minnesota Timberwolves; Senegal), Festus Ezeli (Golden State Warriors; Nigeria), and Luc Mbah a Moute (Sacramento Kings; Cameroon). The team was coached by Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs.
Team captain Paul led Team World, which also featured Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards; U.S.), Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets; U.S.), Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies; Spain), Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls; Spain), Jeff Green (Memphis Grizzlies; U.S.), Trey Burke (Utah Jazz, U.S.), Evan Turner (Boston Celtics; U.S.) and Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic; Montenegro). Lionel Hollins of the Brooklyn Nets served as the coach.
The game also featured cameos from NBA legends Dikembe Mutombo and Hakeem Olajuwon, who hit a memorable "Dream Shake" jumper at the age of 52.
"That was amazing," said Deng. "It was great to see them here playing on the continent. It's just the era that we live in that we're very lucky to do this, but those guys have been doing it way before us. And because of them, this is why this is happening today."
Deng scored 20 points, second on his team behind Antetokounmpo's 22 points, along with four rebounds in 20 minutes. Paul recorded 12 points, seven assists and six rebounds in 22 minutes. Jeff Green led Team World with 17 points.
Beal, Green and Paul turned the game around in the fourth quarter for Team World by hitting several shots from beyond the arc to help erase a double-digit deficit. Deng had two chances from the 3-point line near the end of the game to catch up but Green and Burke hit clutch free throws to seal the win.
"The NBA has been taking steps forward [in Africa], and this is a huge step forward," Deng said. "The game is just going to keep on growing. I'm just glad we got to this stage. The fact that we did this, it means we're stepping forward, and hopefully in the years to come we'll be able to do it all over the continent."