NEW YORK (AFP) – Canadian Andrew Wiggins scored 22 points and earned Most Valuable Player honours on Friday in leading Team World to a 121-112 win over Team USA in the NBA Rising Stars Challenge.
Utah’s French centre Rudy Gobert totaled 18 points and 12 rebounds for the international team of NBA rookies and sophomores, who took on a team of their US counterparts on the opening night of All-Star weekend.
The USA vs The World was a new format for the game, which was originally a contest between teams of rookies and later featured rookies against second-year players.
As in prior editions of the exhibition, defence was at a minimum, although Gobert came up with a solid stop of Nets centre Mason Plumlee late in the contest as the World was nursing a slim lead.
Chicago’s Montenegrin forward Nikola Mirotic and Bojan Bogdanovic, a Croatian who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, each scored 16 points, Bogdanovic making his mark on his home court at the Barclays Centre.
Brooklyn will host All-Star Saturday events including the Slam Dunk Contest before Sunday’s All-Star game is held across town in Manhattan at Madison Square Garden.
Greek forward Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks chipped in 12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals for the World.
Minnesota’s Gorgui Dieng of Senegal chipped in 14 points.
Dieng’s dunk midway through the final period widened the World lead to 105-96.
Orlando’s Victor Oladipo and the Timberwolves’ Zach LaVine scored 22 points apiece for Team USA.
A layup by Trey Burke pulled Team USA within 112-109 before Wiggins, the top pick in the 2014 NBA draft, responded with a reverse layup with 1:33 remaining to rebuild the lead.
Wiggins, when asked if he’d like to play for Canada against a real Team USA in international competition, answered with an emphatic “yes.”
“Definitely,” he said. “That’s a game I dream of. And hopefully we can play in the Olympics.”
As for this exhibition contest, Team USA coach Alvin Gentry, a Golden State assistant, was in favor of a little adjustment to the format.
“I think we’ve got to rearrange this game,” Gentry said. “I think it should be North America against the World. And then that way we get Canada. If we get Canada, we have Wiggins on our team.”