World Sports

Pacers set NBA record with three Canadian starters in win over Raptors 2023/3/23 source: hit: 44 Print

TORONTO, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Indiana Pacers rookie Andrew Nembhard poured in 25 points and dished out 10 assists to lead a trio of Canadian-born players to defeat the Toronto Raptors 118-114 in Wednesday night's NBA match.

Nembhard, along with teammates Bennedict Mathurin and Oshae Brissett, made history as the first time three Canadian-born players had started together on the same team in an NBA game.

"A historic night for Canadian basketball; for it to happen in Toronto is pretty cool," said Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle following the game. "All three of those guys played well, Andrew [Nembhard] set the tone for the game."

23-year-old Nembhard, a native of Aurora, 50 kilometers north of Toronto, played his first ever game in Toronto in front of hundreds of family and friends at the Scotiabank Arena.

"It was fun. Many people were out there watching me, close friends and close family. They gave me confidence," said Nembhard after the game. "It's a surreal moment, I came to one to two games a year here growing up."

Montreal-born Mathurin was also making his Scotiabank Arena debut and finished with 15 points in the win. The 20-year-old and sixth overall pick in the most recent draft ranks second among rookie scorers, with 16.6 points per game.

24-year-old Brissett, who hails from Toronto and started his career with the Raptors, contributed nine points and six rebounds.

The NBA's talent pool of Canadians has continued to grow in the last decade. Since 2011, there have been 16 Canadians picked in the first round of the NBA draft, including seven inside the top 10.

The pinnacle of this trend took place in 2014 when Andrew Wiggins was taken first overall by Cleveland, one year after Canadian-born Anthony Bennett had also been selected first overall by Cleveland.

Entering this season, there were a record 23 players on NBA opening rosters, including the likes of Wiggins (Golden State), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City), Jamal Murray (Denver), and RJ Barrett (New York).

Among the group, there are two All-Stars in Gilgeous-Alexander (2023) and Wiggins (2022).

Wiggins is also one of three NBA champions. Detroit's Cory Joseph and Toronto's Chris Boucher previously won titles with the Spurs and the Raptors respectively.