The NBA’s 2017 Africa Game proved to be an exciting exhibition for not only NBA fans in Africa and around the world, but for Indiana Pacers fans, who got to see Victor Oladipo put on a show for Team Africa. Oladipo, representing Nigeria, led all scorers with 28 points, along with nine rebounds and five assists, including a number of highlight plays, which started from the opening minutes.
Oladipo was relied on heavily by Team Africa. Short Luol Deng, they were left light on wing players (which may be a common trend for Oladipo this season with the Pacers), putting 37 minutes of action upon Oladipo, who did all he could to keep Team Africa afloat against a more well-stocked Team World (which may also be a common trend for Oladipo this season with the Pacers).
Oladipo started slow, but woke up in the second quarter, scoring 11 points to guide Team Africa back from a 12-point deficit to take the lead late in the half. The lead didn’t last, as Team World found plenty of runs in them to keep Team Africa rallies limited. In the last five minutes, however, Oladipo scored 7 and keyed a fantastic outlet to Thabo Sefolosha to keep the score manageable, but it was an 10-0 run by Team World that would cap the 108-97 victory.
Though the game was a loss, Oladipo was awarded the game’s MVP award.
Oladipo and Emmanuel Mudiay were the guiding hands for Team Africa, scoring 50 combined points, dishing 14 of Team Africa’s 21 assists, and pulling in 17 rebounds. Oladipo himself spent plenty of time with the ball, looking comfortable in shooting and passing, giving Indiana a combo guard that may actually work (complete with 28.6% three point shooting!).
However, it is difficult to get a full grasp on what to expect from Oladipo based on this game’s pseudo-All-Star flow, but it should be seen as a positive sign for Pacers fans that Oladipo was ready and willing to take up the scoring load for a team that quite simply lacked much firepower. That level of scoring will be big for the Pacers, who will in need of making up the 23 points (give or take a few) Paul George took with him to Oklahoma City.
Pacers fans can also hope Oladipo’s play was a sign of him entering the season with a chip on his shoulder. As the centerpiece return for the Pacers in the widely panned George trade, it’s impossible to believe Oladipo hasn’t heard the talk surrounding the trade. Him evolving as a higher end scorer is one of the most important things for the Pacers in finding any level of success this upcoming season and this may be a minor relief in hoping he can take that step, though hopefully in a more efficient fashion than 11-25 with 14 three point attempts.
Elsewhere, the Pacers were well represented. Not only was Boomer on hand in the stylish Flo-Jos, but the world broadcast was helmed by Pacers TV broadcasters Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner. Even in the offseason, there’s plenty of opportunity for vintage Quinn to bring excitement to the game:
Be sure to check out Chris and Quinn’s call on NBA TV, which will have a number of airings, with showings at 5 p.m., 8 p.m., and 11 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday.