The NBA has hosted exhibition games in South Africa for the last couple of years in an effort to promote basketball and grow a bigger fan base in the African continent. The NBA recently confirmed that it will be returning to South Africa to host an exhibition match on August 4 in Pretoria.
The exhibition matches in 2015 and 2016 took place in Johannesburg, which is the commercial hub in South Africa as well as the biggest city. This year around, the NBA has decided to make a move to Pretoria and stage the NBA exhibition match at the Sun Arena in Time Square which can seat up to 8,500 people.
Team World vs. Team Africa
Team World will take on Team Africa in the exhibition game and some of the leading NBA players will make their way to South Africa. DeMar DeRozan who plays for the Toronto Raptors will captain Team World while Joel Embiid who plays for the Philadelphia 76ers will captain Team Africa.
Basketball is becoming popular in South Africa and the growing fan base is proof of this. The 2015 exhibition match saw 5,000 fans in attendance while the 2016 edition saw 7,000 fans show up. Organizers are expecting that number to be surpassed in 2018 as Johannesburg is just 40 miles away and die-hard fans from all over are expected to show up.
NBA Looking To Increase Africa Fan Base
This will be the first time that DeMar DeRozan will be playing in South Africa and he is up for the challenge. In a statement, DeRozan said “Some of my teammates played in the previous two games and I have heard a lot of great things about South Africa and our fans there.”
Former NBA Commissioner Adam Siler said in 2015 that the NBA had plans to host a pre-season game in Africa and eventually play a regular season game as the NBA fan base grows in Africa. The NBA has released a provision roster for the two teams and a full roster is expected to be released in the next few weeks.