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Team Pau wins Rising Stars Challenge tournament, Jose Alvarado named MVP

Bennedict Mathurin scored 14 points across two games, helping Team Pau to a Rising Stars championship run. Andrew Nembhard scored two with three assists.

2023 NBA All-Star - Jordan Rising Stars Game Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Team Pau completed their championship run in the Jordan Rising Stars Challenge, topping Team Deron and then Team Joakim as Bennedict Mathurin got the ball to Jose Alvarado for the game winning three.

It proved to be a strong run for Team Pau, the favorites in the four-team tournament, which featured four of this year’s top six draft picks. Though it proved to be the one undrafted player, New Orleans’s Alvarado, that stole the show, scoring 13 points in the opening win and drilling the game winner in the second, securing the MVP award.

In fitting fashion, it was Mathurin that got things started for Team Pau in the opening game, driving to the basket and getting to the line. It was a bit of a slow start for him despite that, splitting the trip and missing his first shot when he got subbed out at the 15-12 break. It was then that Alvarado took charge, scoring 11 out of 13 points for Team Pau to put them ahead 29-21, capped by a gorgeous behind the back pass from Andrew Nembhard.

Nembhard got in on the scoring action following a stop, getting to the line for two free throws that extended the lead to 10. Mathurin’s return proved key in helping Team Pau close out the game, getting some commentating support from Tyrese Haliburton, scoring six to put Team Pau within three points of the 40-point goal at 37-23.

On the game’s final defensive possession, Nembhard would block A.J. Griffin, setting him up to assist the game winning three to Keegan Murray, moving Team Pau into the finals 40-25. In the other game, Team Joakim closed out a win over Team Jason, contending with a mid-game rally from the G-League led Jason squad, but closing them out to win 40-32.

Mathurin again scored the opening points after Team Pau and Team Joakim tipped, grabbing the loose ball of the tip to drive towards a layup.

He wouldn’t stop there, scoring five more points to help Team Pau to a 12-9 lead in the 25-point finale, getting a transition dunk and a pull-up three.

Team Joakim would regain the lead late in the championship game, led by a three-point explosion from Quentin Grimes, knocking down four, driving in for a layup to give Team Joakim an 18-16 lead. Alvarado would make his own push, tying it up on a floater courtesy of Nembhard and clamped down on Grimes as Scottie Barnes pushed Team Pau back in front.

Paolo Banchero put Team Pau within three points of the win with a pair of threes, setting up the final possession that Alvarado was anxious to knock in after making a dinner bet with Donovan Mitchell on the sidelines. Alvarado was well covered by Grimes, passing to Mathurin, who was also defended well by Jalen Williams. Mathurin found Alvarado racing towards him, getting a solid look from three, knocking it in for the championship.

Mathurin was the leading scorer in the championship game, finishing with 14 points in both outings to go with two rebounds and two assists. Unsurprisingly, he also led the way at the free throw line with six attempts, though he was just 2-6, looking for trips to the line and even going so far as to attempt to ask for a challenge after Barnes was whistled for a call late.

It was a near-MVP outing for the rook, but Alvarado won over the...voters(?) with a strong first game, high energy, and a surprising amount of mic-upped profanity, so all’s well that ends well. Nembhard meanwhile finished with two points and three assists, two coming in the championship game, coming up with a steal and block as well.

Haliburton wasn’t the only Indiana Pacer on hand to watch the Rising Stars Challenge, so too was Buddy Hield and Boomer.

The former two, Hield and Haliburton, will take center stage tomorrow night when they compete in the 3-Point Contest. While Mathurin and Nembhard were able to celebrate as teammates, only one of Hield or Haliburton can come away with a win, Hield aiming for his second as the contest’s favorite.