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NBA rosters feature record number of European players

PICTURED: OG Anunoby (Photo credit: Getty Images)

THE NATIONAL Basketball Association (NBA) announced that 108 international players from 42 countries and territories are on opening-night rosters for the 2017-18 season.

This marks the fourth consecutive season that opening-night rosters feature at least 100 international players and that all 30 teams have at least one international player.

The record for international players (113) and previous record for countries and territories represented (41) were set at the start of the 2016-17 season.

In addition to the 108 international players on 2017-18 opening-night rosters, there are five international players on “two-way” contracts. Beginning this season, NBA teams can sign up to 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.

The most-represented countries among the 108 international players on opening-night rosters are Canada (11 players), France (10 players), Australia (record-tying eight players) and Spain (seven players), followed by Brazil, Croatia, Germany, Serbia and Turkey (five players each). Opening-night rosters also feature a record number of European players (64).

The Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz have an NBA-high seven international players each. The Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and San Antonio Spurs each have six. The Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks and Orlando Magic field five each.

The NBA’s 72nd season began yesterday (Oct 17) with a doubleheader on TNT as part of Kia NBA Tip-Off 2017. In the opening game, the Cleveland Cavaliers hosted the Celtics in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals at 8 p.m. ET. In the second game, the Houston Rockets visited the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors at 10:30 p.m. ET.

A number of international players are scheduled to make their NBA debut during opening week, including:

Lauri Markkanen (Finland; Basketball without Borders 2014 and 2015), the seventh overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, will make his NBA debut when the Chicago Bulls visit the Raptors on Thursday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBA LEAGUE PASS.

Frank Ntilikina (France; Basketball without Borders 2015 and 2016), the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, will make his NBA debut when the Knicks travel to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder on Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.

Zhou Qi (China), the 43rd overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, and the Rockets took on the Warriors yesterday (Oct 17) at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT.

Ben Simmons (Australia), the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, will make his NBA debut when the 76ers visit the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Milos Teodosic (Serbia; Basketball without Borders 2001), who was voted the best international player not in the NBA in the 2016-17 GM Survey, will make his NBA debut when the LA Clippers play the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 19 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT.

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