Luc Mbah a Moute was the standout African performer as the 2017/18 NBA season tipped off on Tuesday night. The Cameroonian forward came off the bench for Houston and was massive for the Rockets as they handed the champion Golden State Warriors a 122-121 defeat at Oracle Arena.
Mbah a Moute scored 14 points off 6-of-9 shooting, sinking two of three 3-point shots on debut for the Rockets. He also hauled down four rebounds. The 14 points were the most the Cameroonian has scored since he poured in 15 points for the LA Clippers in Game 3 of the playoffs series against the Utah Jazz last season. It is also a huge total for Mbah a Moute, who is averaging 6.3 points per game in a nine-year NBA career.
Clint Capela also had a big night, as he contributed 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting, with none of the points coming from the free-throw line. He also added four rebounds, one blocked shot and one assist, and turned the ball over only twice. Despite playing defense, Capela did not have any fouls called on him.
The biggest difference between the performances of the two Rockets men, however, was highlighted in their plus-minus ratings. Only one starter (Ryan Anderson, rated +8) was higher than Mbah a Moute’s +4 rating. Capela, who was in the starting lineup, had a -23 rating—the worst on the team.
The only other African player on duty on opening night was Boston Celtics forward Nigerian-American Semi Ojeleye. Ojeleye also came off the bench for the Celtics in their 102-99 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The rookie forward came on with 2:38 left in the first quarter as a replacement for Jayson Tatum, and was on the floor for nine minutes. He scored no points, putting up 0-2 from field-goal range, no rebounds, and had a personal foul recorded against him after a tangle with LeBron James.
A total of five players of African origin are on the combined roster of both teams, but the other two players, Chinanu Onuaku for the Houston Rockets and Andre Iguodala for the Golden State Warriors, were not included in the opening-day roster.
— NBA Africa (@NBA_Africa) October 18, 2017