Oklahoma City Thunder’s Serge Ibaka and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Gorgui Dieng are the latest players of African descent to be added to the lineup for the first NBA Africa game, which is to be held in Johannesburg on August 1.
They will join Team Africa alongside captain Luol Deng, who was born in Sudan and announced as the leader of the side earlier in the year. Ibaka was born in Congo, but represents Spain, while Dieng represents Senegal, his country of birth.
Kenneth ‘Manibal’ Faried of the Denver Nuggets and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal have also been added to the game, joining Team World captain Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The game, which is the first of its kind on the African continent, will be played to raise funds for South African charities. Boys & Girls Clubs of South Africa, SOS Children’s Villages Association of South Africa and the Nelson Mandela Foundation will all benefit from the eagerly-awaited encounter.
Team World will consist of NBA players from around the world, while Team Africa will be made up of African-born and second generation African players.
The 2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks, NBA Africa Ambassador Hakeem Olajuwon, NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will all travel to South Africa for the NBA game.
The initiative will be welcomed by South African fans of the sport, who will no doubt come out in numbers to enjoy a unique experience and support the charities involved.
Ibaka and Dieng have been in Accra, Ghana this week to hold a two-day basketball clinic for children in the country.