Giannis Antetokounmpo's first trip to Africa proved a memorable one.
The children of Nigerian immigrants, the Greek Freak put on a show for Team Africa at the inaugural NBA Africa game, scoring a game-high 22 points as the World Team narrowly escaped with a 101-97 exhibition win in Johannesburg, South Africa (box score). African legends Dikembe Mutombo and Hakeem Olajuwon also surprised the crowd by suiting up for a few minutes in the second quarter, with the Dream even dusting off a class spin and score for good measure. Good times!
As for Giannis? Well, he was a predictable terror in the open court, hitting 9/12 inside the arc while doing a little bit of work on his three point shot as well (1/4 from deep). He added eight rebounds, two assists and three steals in 21 minutes, while Luol Deng (20 points) and Chris Paul (12 points, 7 assists) took home MVP honors (Giannis was robbed! Ah, whatever). Here's a quick Vine synopsis:
Giannis just dunked ALL OVER AFRICA (and scored a game-high 22 points) https://t.co/RlKajFefrE— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) August 1, 2015
This is what Giannis now looks like hitting a three pointer (...and finishing over Marc Gasol) https://t.co/ilBphmJbM4— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) August 1, 2015
I don't think there's too much to be gathered from this sort of exhibition, though it is nice to see Giannis stand out among his peer and hit at least one three -- hopefully a sneak peek of what's to come. The Team Africa roster was essentially all forwards and big men, so Boris Diaw and Giannis were tasked with most of the ball-handling responsibilities -- not exactly a recipe for success when the other team has Chris Paul. Still, they led by as many as 20 before a barrage of threes allowed the World roster to take a double-digit lead and eventually hang on for the (meaningless) win.
Up next for Giannis is national team duty with Greece later this month, culminating in the start of EuroBasket pool play on September 5.