All-Stars Game: How Nigeria’s Adebayo won 2020 Taco Bell Skills Challenge

By Harry Awurumibe, Head, Abuja Bureau

Nigeria-American and Miami Heat All-Star,  Edrice “Bam” Adebayo  at the weekend (early Sunday morning in Nigeria) eliminated his rivals including Domantas Sabonis in the final round of the 2020 Taco Bell Skills Challenge to emerge winner.

The Newark, New Jersey, United States-born Nigerian by this feat joined the league of some National Basketball Association (NBA) greats who also won the Skills Challenge in the past. They include NBA stars like Jason Kidd of New Jersey; Steve Nash of Phoenix Suns and Dwyane Wade of Maimi Heat who won it twice each among others.

Adebayo who was born by an American mother and Nigerian father in Newark, New Jersey 22 years ago is a man of many talents, though his 3-point shooting hasn’t exactly been on display in the regular season. The fourth-year big man has shot just 1-for-11 from 3-point range in the regular season, but he was 3-for-6 from beyond the arc to win the Taco Bell Skills Challenge at State Farm All-Star Saturday Night.

After shooting 2-for-3 on his 3-point shots through the first two rounds, Adebayo knocked down his third attempt to beat Indiana Pacers All-Star Domantas Sabonis in the final round.

Adebayo was asked afterward if he’ll be shooting more threes with the Heat now.

“I had to end this with threes, so I can take top-of-the-key threes maybe?” he replied. “I mean, I just won, you know what I’m saying, this thing right here, so I hope [Heat coach Erik Spoelstra] sees this. He might put it in consideration.”

Adebayo eliminated Toronto Raptors All-Star Pascal Siakam in the semifinals in a tight matchup, draining his second 3-point attempt. Sabonis knocked out the Milwaukee Bucks’ Khris Middleton even though he missed his first three shots from beyond the arc.

In the first round, Adebayo eliminated 2018 champion Spencer Dinwiddie by draining his first pull-up three after gaining an early lead. Siakam knocked out the Clippers Patrick Beverley by knocking down his first three. Middleton gained a big lead over Shai Gilgeous-Alexander when the Thunder guard failed to complete a successful chest pass, and Sabonis won a shooting contest with defending champion Jayson Tatum.

Participants:
• Bam Adebayo, Miami
• Patrick Beverley, LA
• Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn
• Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City
• Khris Middleton, Milwaukee
• Derrick Rose, Detroit (injured)**
• Domantas Sabonis, Indiana
• Pascal Siakam, Toronto
• Jayson Tatum, Boston

Past Skills Challenge Winners:

  • 2003 – Jason Kidd, New Jersey       
  • 2004 – Baron Davis, New Orleans
  • 2005 – Steve Nash, Phoenix
  • 2006 – Dwyane Wade, Miami
  • 2007 – Dwyane Wade, Miami
  • 2008 – Deron Williams, Utah
  • 2009 – Derrick Rose, Chicago         
  • 2010 – Steve Nash, Phoenix
  • 2011 – Stephen Curry, Golden State
  • 2012 – Tony Parker, San Antonio
  • 2013 – Damian Lillard, Portland
  • 2014 – Trey Burke, Utah and Damian Lillard, Portland
  • 2015 – Patrick Beverley, Houston
  • 2016 – Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota
  • 2017 – Kristaps Porzingis, New York
  • 2018 – Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn
  • 2019 – Jayson Tatum, Boston

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