NEW YORK — A record 54 players from the National Basketball Association (NBA) are on the squads of national teams at this month’s FIBA Basketball World Cup in China, up from 45 in the 2014 edition.
Of the 32 teams taking part, 25 have players from 21 NBA franchises while the combined list, which also includes players with NBA experience and new draftees, takes the count to 103, another record and a rise from 92 in 2014.
The Boston Celtics, the most successful team in NBA history, has six players from its roster at the World Cup – including four Americans – followed by the Sacramento Kings and Milwaukee Bucks who have five players each.
Arguably the biggest name from the NBA at the World Cup is Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks forward who was last season’s most valuable player.
However, there is only one player from the 2019 champion Toronto Raptors at the tournament – 34-year-old center Marc Gasol, who won the World Cup with Spain in 2006.
Among countries with the most current NBA players at the World Cup, apart from holders the US, 2016 Olympic silver medalists Serbia and France lead the way with five each, followed by Spain and Australia with four each.
The World Cup, which tipped off on Aug. 31, runs until Sept. 15. Seven teams, two each from the Americas and Europe as well as one apiece from Africa, Asia and Oceania, will qualify automatically for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. — Reuters