When the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 tipped off on Saturday, it marked a seminal moment in the tournament’s history.
The current edition of the competition has the largest contingent of NBA players ever to suit up in FIBA’s flagship event, which was first played in 1950.
There are 54 NBA players from 17 different countries in the tournament, which in total features 32 of the world’s leading national teams and for the first time is played in China. In comparison, there were 45 NBA players at the last FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain five years ago.
The tournament also includes a record 103 combined current NBA players, NBA draftees, and players with NBA experience, up from 92 in 2014.
Nigeria is represented by three NBA stars Al-Farouq Aminu (Orlando Magic), Chimeze Metu (San Antonio Spurs) and Josh Okogie of Minnesota Timberwolves.
Arguably the best player in the world, NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, headlines the depth of talent at the World Cup, firmly putting Greece in the title conversation.
Meanwhile, his fellow All-NBA First Team selection, Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, is representing Serbia, who have set their sights on the prestigious Naismith Trophy as well.
All-NBA Third Team selections that are playing at the World Cup are the USA point guard Kemba Walker, the long-time star of the Charlotte Hornets who has joined the Boston Celtics this summer, and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert of France.
The 12-man roster of the defending World Cup champions USA, going for a historic three-peat in China, is again made up entirely of NBA players while both Serbia and France boast five from the world’s top league.