Towns: ''FIBA Basketball is amazing''; NBA stars react to record number of NBA players
MANILA (Philippines) - Many of the NBA stars at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 reacted to the new record of NBA players at the game’s flagship event by recognizing the international game is becoming more globalized and getting better everywhere.
A total of 55 NBA players from 20 different countries were included in the 32 rosters for the World Cup - up from the previous record of 54 players in 2019 after 45 NBA players at the 2014 World Cup.
"FIBA basketball is amazing. It's a huge honor when you get to represent your country. A lot of NBA players are recognizing just how global the game is. And it's awesome to give fans from other counties opportunities to see NBA players in action," said Dominican Republic and Minnesota big man Karl-Anthony Towns, who is returning to his national team for the first time since 2013.
Karl-Anthony Towns and Jordan Clarkson
Jordan Clarkson of Philippines says the sport just continues to grow.
"It's a global game. Everybody is playing it. It just shows how much it's grown and how talented everybody is too. If you look at the NBA now, it's full of people from everywhere. It's a testament to how much the game is growing. At the same time, it's a testament to the game period and how much everybody loves it," said the Utah Jazz guard.
USA center Bobby Portis of the Milwaukee Bucks said: "The international game is getting better and better. When you look at the NBA Draft you see more foreign guys getting drafted. And on each roster in the league, you have at least two or three or four foreign guys. Our game is growing, it’s getting better. And our game is becoming a global game."
Having more and more exposure to the top players in the world also helps motivate and inspire more young players, according to Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic of Serbia.
"The NBA is becoming more and more global. Every year there are more players in the NBA and for sure they are affecting the world. Just watching and seeing how the players are playing, and being able to see that helps you in your game. So there is a lot of talent in the world. And since the NBA is global, you can see it when you are young and it helps with your development," he said.
There is also the aspect of many of these NBA players getting a chance to play with some of their long-time friends again.
"Most players do enjoy playing for their country and come in. These tournaments are fun to be a part of, especially because a lot of these players I'm playing with now, I've played with them when I was younger, I kinda grew up around them, so it's fun to be out there with them on the floor. It's an honor for us to represent our countries," said Montenegro's Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic.
South Sudan assistant coach and federation president Luol Deng said all the international players is having an impact on the NBA.
"Global basketball just seems to get better and better. The NBA seems like it is even smaller with the number of players from around the world in it and more guys coming up," said Deng, who played 15 years in the NBA for 5 teams.
USA head coach Steve Kerr said the new record is solely a testament to the rest of the world and how much better it is getting.
"The USA team is always going to have 12 NBA players. So the fact that we are breaking a record in the World Cup means that the other teams are getting better and better," he said. "The game is getting more globalized and improving everywhere. And that’s why you have so many great players in the NBA from overseas. They’re getting good training, they have good competition to allow them to get to this point, and it means it’s that much harder for the United States to win a gold medal."
The record could have been even higher had not many players not been unavailable due to injury concerns.
"Unbelievable. It's mind boggling to think about it," said Philippines coach Chot Reyes when told about the record. "And then you think if those guys who could not come really came we would be approaching 70 easily. That’s mind-boggling to say the least."
At the same time, it seems that the record is destined to be broken in four years in Qatar.