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Five D’Tigers, seven Nigeria eligible players among 120 foreigners in 2022/23 NBA

By Christian Okpara
21 October 2022   |   3:00 am
Nigeria's Josh Okogie, Precious Achiuwa, Udoka Azubuike, Chima Moneke and Chimezie Metu are among 120 foreign players registered by various clubs to play in United States’ forthcoming National Basketball Association

[FILES] D’Tigers

Nigeria’s Josh Okogie, Precious Achiuwa, Udoka Azubuike, Chima Moneke and Chimezie Metu are among 120 foreign players registered by various clubs to play in United States’ forthcoming National Basketball Association (NBA) 2022/23 season. There are also seven players with links to Nigeria in the various rosters released by the NBA on Wednesday.

These players are Antetekounpo (Adetokunbo) brothers, who play for Greece, Gianni and Thanasias of Milwaukee Bucks and Kostas of Chicago Bulls. The others are A.G Anonoby of Toronto Raptors, Eugene Omoruyi of Oklahoma City Thunder, Deandre Ayton of Phoenix Suns and Usman Garuba of the Toronto Raptors.

The NBA list contains international players from 40 countries and six continents on opening-night rosters for the 2022-23 season, including a record number of players from Canada (22) and Australia (10).

A record-tying five players from Nigeria are among the 16 African players on opening-night rosters. There are also more than 35 players with at least one parent from Africa.

This marks the first time that opening-night rosters have at least 120 international players in consecutive seasons and the ninth straight season that opening-night rosters feature at least 100 international players. All 30 NBA teams feature at least one international player.

The 2022-23 season tipped off on Wednesday.

For the ninth consecutive year, Canada is the most-represented country outside of the U.S., followed by Australia, France (nine players) and Germany (six players). Nigeria, Serbia and Spain each have five players. A total of 58 European players are featured in the opening-night rosters, including three members of the 2021-22 Kia All-NBA First Team: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks; Greece; ties to Nigeria), Luka Dončić (Dallas Mavericks; Slovenia) and 2021-22 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokić (Denver Nuggets; Serbia).

The Toronto Raptors feature eight international players, marking the second consecutive season the team leads the league, followed by the Mavericks, Indiana Pacers and the Sacramento Kings with seven international players each. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz each have six.

Thirty-eight players on opening-night rosters participated in Basketball Without Borders (BWB) prior to their NBA careers, including Deandre Ayton (Suns; Bahamas; BWB Global 2016), Shai Gilgeous- Alexander (Thunder; Canada; BWB Global 2016), Joel Embiid (76ers; Cameroun; BWB Africa 2011), Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards; Japan; BWB Global 2016), Jamal Murray (Nuggets; Canada; BWB Global 2015), Pascal Siakam (Raptors; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2012) and Jonas Valančiūnas (New Orleans Pelicans; Lithuania; BWB Europe 2008).

Additionally, there are a record three NBA Academy graduates on opening-night rosters: Dyson Daniels (Pelicans; Australia; NBA Global Academy), Josh Giddey (Thunder; Australia; NBA Global Academy) and Bennedict Mathurin (Pacers; Canada; ties to Haiti; NBA Academy Latin America). NBA Academies, a year-round elite basketball development program for top high school-age athletes from outside the U.S., have been launched in Canberra, Australia; Greater Noida, India; San Luis Potosí, Mexico; and Saly, Senegal for top prospects from their respective countries and continents.

There are also a number of American players with ties to other countries. Among the American players with ties to other countries are Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat; ties to Nigeria), Jalen Green (Houston Rockets; ties to the Philippines), Matisse Thybulle (76ers; ties to Australia and Haiti), Juan Toscano- Anderson (Lakers; ties to Mexico), Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves; ties to the Dominican Republic) and Jaylin Williams (Thunder; ties to Vietnam).