Why Team Africa could finally win an NBA Africa game

Team Africa has never won against Team World in the NBA Africa game, and the third edition, in Pretoria on Saturday, could well see the 'home team' get on the scoreboard.

Team Africa lost the first two NBA Africa games, and they could have won both, it could be said. Team World used a fourth quarter burst in 2015 to take a 101-97 victory, after trailing by 16 points going into the last quarter.

In 2017, Team World raced into a 33-19 lead in the first quarter before they were pegged back, as Team Africa levelled up the score at 77-all going into the final frame, before the 'visitors' again surged ahead with a 31-20 final quarter push, to take a 108-97 victory.

So, there is a possibility that Team Africa, headlined by Joel Embiid and Bismack Biyombo, can win this third contest in South Africa, and here is how.

Frontcourt scoring

Cameroon and Philadelphia's Embiid ended last season averaging 22.9 points per game, which ranked him 3rd among all the centres in the league. He was ranked even better in the playoffs, as his 21.4 points per game average was second only to New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis.

What this means is that unless 'The Brow' is suddenly drafted into Team World in th space of two days, The Process will get whatever he wants in offense. He will not be the only scoring threat though.

Toronto's Serge Ibaka also averaged 12.1 points per game in the regular season, and Evan Fournier, who has led the Orlando Magic in scoring the past two seasons, will offer scoring from the wings.

Team Africa also arrive with good defence

Embiid was named in the 2017-18 NBA All-Defensive Team for a reason. The Cameroonian was a disruptive influence for opposition scorers both in the paint and on the wings, and he averaged 11.0 rebounds last season. And Ibaka may have lost a step, but he is still arguably one of the better defenders in the league.

Portland Trail Blazers' Al-Farouq Aminu and Charlotte Hornets' Biyombo are also known rim-protectors that will bring solid defence to Team Africa. And when it is time to rotate, Pelicans' Cheick Diallo and Toronto Raptors' Pascal Siakam will provide athleticism off the bench.

Team Spirit

After playing two games, albeit with different personnel in the line-up, the odds are that the returning Team Africa players like Aminu, Ibaka, Biyombo, and Embiid will help forge a resilient team spirit that may be needed to combat the fourth quarter hoodoo that has plagued Team Africa in past games.

And there is the third-time charm...

Third's time lucky may just be the case for Team Africa. The annoyane of losing the previous games in the fourth quarter will probably ready them for another late Team World onslaught. And since they should have learnt the lesson, it is not impossible that Team Africa will probably double-up by trying to build a huge lead, and lock down on defence late in the game, to secure a first win.

Team Africa:

Luol Deng (Los Angeles Lakers; South Sudan), Ian Mahinmi (Washington Wizards; France; parent from Benin), Al-Farouq Aminu (Portland Trail Blazers; U.S.; parents from Nigeria), Bismack Biyombo (Charlotte Hornets; Democratic Republic of the Congo), Cheick Diallo (New Orleans Pelicans; Mali), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2011), Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic; France; parent from Algeria), Serge Ibaka (Toronto Raptors; Republic of the Congo), Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (Oklahoma City Thunder; France; parent from Democratic Republic of the Congo), and Pascal Siakam (Raptors; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2012)