League showcasing international talent in Mexico City game

Tue Dec 3, 2013 7:49pm EST
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Mexico City will be treated to an international hoops fest on Wednesday when the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves clash in an NBA regular season game that rewards fast-growing Hispanic interest in the league.

The reigning Western Conference champion Spurs (15-3) feature 10 international players and the Timberwolves (9-10) have seven on their squad amounting to a record total for a National Basketball Association (NBA) contest.

"It's great to have a match-up where we can showcase the most international players," Philippe Moggio, the NBA's vice president for Latin America, told Reuters in a telephone interview on Tuesday from Mexico City.

"It demonstrates the flavor of internationalism within the NBA, particularly for Latin America," he added, noting Minnesota's Ricky Rubio of Spain and Jose Juan Barrea of Puerto Rico along with San Antonio's Manu Ginobili of Argentina and Brazil's Tiago Splitter.

Moggio has called Mexico "a priority market" for the NBA, which is staging its 21st game there, the most for any country outside the United States and Canada.

Globalization is a watchword for the leading professional basketball league, which next month shifts NBA action to London for a game between the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets after a record spate of eight pre-season games staged overseas.

While international revenues represent a modest amount of the NBA's projected total of over $5 billion, it is a fast-growing segment.

More than 30 percent of league merchandising sales come from outside the United States and more than half of NBA.com's 9.6 billion page views and 5.6 billion video streams come from outside North America, the league says.   Continued...

Dec 2, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) drives to the basket as Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (left) defends during the first half at AT&T Center. Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports