13 Africa-born players feature on NBA opening-night rosters

The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced that 108 international players from a record-tying 42 countries and territories are on opening-night rosters for the 2018-19 season. This marks the fifth consecutive season that these rosters feature at least 100 international players and that all 30 teams have at least one international player.

After more than 85 current and former NBA players took 50 trips to six continents to participate in basketball development events, Jr. NBA clinics, fan meet-and-greets and more, the 2018-19 NBA Season has finally arrived. Coming off the successful third NBA Africa Game and 16th edition of the Basketball Without Borders Africa camp last August, our attention now moves to the league and the first matchups of the new season.

AFRICAN INFLUENCE: These are the 13 Africa-born players on the opening rosters this season:

o Cameroon – Joel Embiid, Phildelphia 76ers (NBA Africa Game 2018)

o Cameroon – Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors (NBA Africa Game 2018)

o Cameroon – Luc Mbah a Moute, Los Angeles Clippers (NBA Africa Game 2015, 2017)

o DRC – Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Hornets (NBA Africa Game 2015, 2017, 2018)

o DRC – Emmanuel Mudiay, New York Knicks (NBA Africa Game 2017)

o Egypt – Abdel Nader, Oklahoma City Thunder

o Mali – Cheick Diallo, New Orleans Pelicans (NBA Africa Game 2018)

o Nigeria – Josh Okogie, Minnesota Timberwolves

o Republic of Congo – Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors (NBA Africa Game 2017, 2018)

o Senegal – Gorgui Dieng, Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA Africa Game 2015, 2017)

o South Sudan – Thon Maker, Milwaukee Bucks

o South Sudan – Luol Deng, Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA Africa Game 2015, 2017, 2018)

o Tunisia – Salah Mejri, Dallas Mavericks (NBA Africa Game 2017)

The records for international players (113) and countries and territories represented (42) were set at the start of the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, respectively.

The most-represented countries among the 108 international players on opening-night rosters are Canada (11 players), Australia (record nine players), France (nine players), Spain (seven players) and Germany (record six players), followed by Croatia, Serbia and Turkey (five players each). Opening-night rosters also feature 13 Africa-born players and a record 65 European players.

The Dallas Mavericks have an NBA-high seven international players. The Utah Jazz and LA Clippers each have six. The Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers and San Antonio Spurs field five each.

The NBA’s 73rd season begins tonight with a double-header as part of Kia NBA Tip-Off 2018. In the opening game, the Celtics host the 76ers in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals at 02:00 (CAT). In the second game, the Thunder visits the two-time defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors at 04:30 (CAT).

Tomorrow night, 2018 No 1 overall Draft pick Deandre Ayton (Bahamas) and the Phoenix Suns will host 2018 No 3 overall Draft pick Luka Doncic (Slovenia) and the Mavericks at 04:30 (CAT). Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov, the first NBA head coach born outside of North America and Doncic’s former coach with the Slovenian national team, will make his regular-season coaching debut in the game.

A record 26 former Basketball Without Borders (BWB) campers are on opening-night rosters, including Joel Embiid (76ers; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2011), Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets; Canada; BWB Global 2015), Dario Saric (76ers; Croatia; BWB Europe 2010) and Ayton (BWB Global 2016). BWB is the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program from which more than 55 former campers were drafted into the NBA or signed as free agents since 2001.

In addition to the 108 international players on 2018-19 opening-night rosters, there are six international players from five countries on ‘two-way’ contracts. For the second consecutive season, NBA teams can sign up to two two-way players to NBA contracts. These contracts allow two-way players to be with their NBA parent team for up to 45 days, spending most of the season in the NBA G-League.

International player milestones, storylines for upcoming season:

• There are 11 international players on opening-night rosters who have been NBA All-Stars: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks; Greece), Luol Deng (Minnesota Timberwolves; South Sudan), Goran Dragic (Miami Heat; Slovenia), Embiid, Al Horford (Celtics; Dominican Republic), Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies; Spain), Pau Gasol (Spurs; Spain), Kyrie Irving (Celtics; Australia), Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks; Germany), Tony Parker (Charlotte Hornets; France) and Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks; Latvia).

• Nowitzki will set an NBA record for most seasons played with one team (21), breaking a tie with Kobe Bryant, who spent 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. Nowitzki will tie the NBA record for most seasons played overall (21), joining Robert Parish, Kevin Willis, Kevin Garnett and the Atlanta Hawks’ Vince Carter, who is also beginning his 21st season.

• As part of the NBA.com 2018-19 GM Survey, Antetokounmpo was voted the No 1 player with whom general managers would want to start a franchise. Murray was voted the No 1 player most likely to have a breakout season.

• Pau Gasol needs 15 points to pass David Robinson (20,790 points) for 38th place on the all-time scoring list and 105 points to pass Bob Pettit (20,880 points) for 37th place on the all-time scoring list.

• Tony Parker needs 306 points to pass Bob Lanier (19,248 points) for 50th place on the all-time scoring list.

• Yuta Watanabe (two-way player for the Grizzlies; Japan; NBA Global Camp 2018) is seeking to become the second Japanese player to play in the NBA (Yuta Tabuse; Suns 2004-05).

Full list of international players on 2018-19 opening-night rosters

(Active and inactive)

Country First Name Last Name NBA Team

Australia Aron Baynes Boston Celtics

Australia Jonah Bolden Philadelphia 76ers

Australia Ryan Broekhoff Dallas Mavericks

Australia Matthew Dellavedova Milwaukee Bucks

Australia Dante Exum Utah Jazz

Australia Joe Ingles Utah Jazz

Australia Kyrie Irving Boston Celtics

Australia Patty Mills San Antonio Spurs

Australia Ben Simmons Philadelphia 76ers

Austria Jakob Poeltl San Antonio Spurs

Bahamas Deandre Ayton* Phoenix Suns

Bahamas Buddy Hield Sacramento Kings

Bosnia and Herzegovina Dzanan Musa Brooklyn Nets

Bosnia and Herzegovina Jusuf Nurkic Portland Trail Blazers

Bosnia and Herzegovina Ivica Zubac Los Angeles Lakers

Brazil Cristiano Felicio Chicago Bulls

Brazil Raul Neto Utah Jazz

Brazil Nene Houston Rockets

Cameroon Joel Embiid* Philadelphia 76ers

Cameroon Luc Mbah a Moute* LA Clippers

Cameroon Pascal Siakam* Toronto Raptors

Canada Khem Birch Orlando Magic

Canada Dillon Brooks Memphis Grizzlies

Canada Shai Gilgeous-Alexander* LA Clippers

Canada Cory Joseph Indiana Pacers

Canada Trey Lyles Denver Nuggets

Canada Jamal Murray* Denver Nuggets

Canada Kelly Olynyk* Miami Heat

Canada Dwight Powell Dallas Mavericks

Canada Nik Stauskas Portland Trail Blazers

Canada Tristan Thompson Cleveland Cavaliers

Canada Andrew Wiggins Minnesota Timberwolves

China Zhou Qi Houston Rockets

Croatia Dragan Bender* Phoenix Suns

Croatia Bojan Bogdanovic Indiana Pacers

Croatia Mario Hezonja New York Knicks

Croatia Dario Saric* Philadelphia 76ers

Croatia Ante Zizic* Cleveland Cavaliers

Czech Republic Tomas Satoransky Washington Wizards

Democratic Republic of Congo Bismack Biyombo Charlotte Hornets

Democratic Republic of Congo Emmanuel Mudiay New York Knicks

Dominican Republic Al Horford Boston Celtics

Egypt Abdel Nader Oklahoma City Thunder

Finland Lauri Markkanen* Chicago Bulls

France Nicolas Batum* Charlotte Hornets

France Evan Fournier Orlando Magic

France Rudy Gobert Utah Jazz

France Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot Oklahoma City Thunder

France Ian Mahinmi Washington Wizards

France Frank Ntilikina* New York Knicks

France Elie Okobo Phoenix Suns

France Tony Parker Charlotte Hornets

France Guerschon Yabusele Boston Celtics

Georgia Zaza Pachulia Detroit Pistons

Germany Isaac Bonga* Los Angeles Lakers

Germany Maxi Kleber Dallas Mavericks

Germany Dirk Nowitzki Dallas Mavericks

Germany Dennis Schroder Oklahoma City Thunder

Germany Daniel Theis Boston Celtics

Germany Moritz Wagner Los Angeles Lakers

Greece Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks

Haiti Skal Labissiere Sacramento Kings

Israel Omri Casspi* Memphis Grizzlies

Italy Marco Belinelli* San Antonio Spurs

Italy Danilo Gallinari* LA Clippers

Latvia Davis Bertans San Antonio Spurs

Latvia Rodions Kurucs Brooklyn Nets

Latvia Kristaps Porzingis New York Knicks

Lithuania Domantas Sabonis Indiana Pacers

Lithuania Jonas Valanciunas* Toronto Raptors

Mali Cheick Diallo New Orleans Pelicans

Montenegro Nikola Mirotic* New Orleans Pelicans

Montenegro Nikola Vucevic Orlando Magic

New Zealand Steven Adams Oklahoma City Thunder

Nigeria Josh Okogie Minnesota Timberwolves

Poland Marcin Gortat LA Clippers

Puerto Rico JJ Barea Dallas Mavericks

Republic of the Congo Serge Ibaka Toronto Raptors

Russia Timofey Mozgov Orlando Magic

Senegal Gorgui Dieng* Minnesota Timberwolves

Serbia Nemanja Bjelica Sacramento Kings

Serbia Bogdan Bogdanovic Sacramento Kings

Serbia Nikola Jokic Denver Nuggets

Serbia Boban Marjanovic LA Clippers

Serbia Milos Teodosic* LA Clippers

Slovenia Goran Dragic Miami Heat

Slovenia Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks

South Sudan Luol Deng Minnesota Timberwolves

South Sudan Thon Maker* Milwaukee Bucks

Spain Alex Abrines Oklahoma City Thunder

Spain Jose Calderon Detroit Pistons

Spain Marc Gasol* Memphis Grizzlies

Spain Pau Gasol San Antonio Spurs

Spain Juancho Hernangomez Denver Nuggets

Spain Willy Hernangomez* Charlotte Hornets

Spain Ricky Rubio Utah Jazz

Sweden Jonas Jerebko Golden State Warriors

Switzerland Clint Capela Houston Rockets

Switzerland Thabo Sefolosha Utah Jazz

Tunisia Salah Mejri Dallas Mavericks

Turkey Omer Asik Chicago Bulls

Turkey Ersan Ilyasova Milwaukee Bucks

Turkey Enes Kanter* New York Knicks

Turkey Furkan Korkmaz Philadelphia 76ers

Turkey Cedi Osman Cleveland Cavaliers

Ukraine Alex Len Atlanta Hawks

Ukraine Svi Mykhailiuk Los Angeles Lakers

United Kingdom OG Anunoby Toronto Raptors

Full list of international two-way players

Country First Name Last Name NBA Team

Canada Chris Boucher Toronto Raptors

Canada Naz Mitrou-Long Utah Jazz

Dominican Republic Angel Delgado LA Clippers

Greece Kostas Antetokounmpo* Dallas Mavericks

Japan Yuta Watanabe Memphis Grizzlies

First appeared on NBA.com Global

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