By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The rain that fell in São Paulo yesterday (March 19th) could not dampen the excitement at Ginásio do Ibirapuera arena as Brazil’s premier professional basketball league, the Novo Basquete Brasil (NBB), held its ninth edition of the Jogos das Estrelas (All-Star Game).
In the event’s finale, NBB Brasil fell to NBB Mundo (World), 108-96, in a game pitting the league’s best Brazilian-born players against its best foreign-born players.
Inspired by the NBA‘s annual All-Star Game in the U.S., the NBB’s Jogos das Estrelas brings together the best basketball players in Brazil to compete in a series of events including the Skills Challenge, the Three-Point Shootout, the Dunk Contest and the finale between NBB Brasil and NBB Mundo.
Coming off a win in last year’s game, it was clear NBB Mundo were determined to repeat. At the outset, the foreigners established a frenetic pace and jumped out to an early 13-2 lead. Led by California-native and seven-time NBB All-Star, Shamell Stallworth, known in Brazil simply as Shamell, NBB Mundo was able to maintain a comfortable lead until the late third quarter.
With the home crowd behind them, NBB Brasil slowly chipped away. Following a three-pointer from Flamengo‘s Marcelinho Machado, the Brazilians tied the game at 70-70. A basket from Georginho gave Brazil the 92-91 lead and sent the fans into a frenzy.
But, Shamell would quickly quiet the crowd with a clutch three-pointer giving NBB Mundo the late lead they would not relinquish. Despite a desperate rush from NBB Brasil, NBB Mundo would hold on for the 108-96 win.
With eighteen points, Shamell was voted the game’s MVP. “I am very happy,” exclaimed the ecstatic Mogi das Cruzes forward after the game. “Outside the gym, it was crowded. I’ve watched many NBA games, finals, and when I got here I felt like an NBA player.”
Shamell added, “I hope basketball continues to grow like this in Brazil.”
This was the seventh matchup between the league’s best Brazilian and foreign players. Despite yesterday’s win, NBB Brasil leads the head-to-head matchup 4-3.
NBB fans selected the All-Star players through online voting organized by Brazil’s Liga Nacional de Basquete and O Globo. The leading vote-getter among all players was Flamengo forward Marquinhos.
Flamengo was well-represented in this year’s game with three players on the Brazil squad (Marquinhos, Olivinha and Marcelinho Machado) and one on the World squad (Hakeem Rollins).