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NBA Finals Feature Record Nine Non-US Players
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A record nine international players will take part in the NBA Finals, which will be televised to 205 nations in 46 languages starting in San Antonio, Texas, on Thursday in the United States.

The old mark of most non-US players in an NBA Finals was set in 2005 with seven when the Spurs defeated Detroit in seven games.

French guard Tony Parker, Argentina playmaker Manu Ginobili and US Virgin Islands standout Tim Duncan will lead the San Antonio Spurs against a Cleveland lineup that has three global players in supporting roles to star LeBron James.

Other international players on the San Antonio roster are Dutchman Francisco Elson, Slovenia's Beno Udrih and Argentina's Fabricio Oberto, who averages 5.9 points and 5.1 rebounds a game off the bench.

Lithuanian center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, averaging 13.8 points and 9.5 rebounds, is the top big man for the Cavaliers and will be called upon to test Duncan in order for Cleveland to challenge the Spurs inside.

Montenegro's Aleksandar Pavlovic averages 9.0 points in 30 minutes a game for the Cavaliers in the playoffs while Brazil's Anderson Varejao averages 5.6 points and 6.1 rebounds a contest.

"They still would not be in the finals, nor would we, if we didn't each have our supporting casts," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

A record 128 television broadcasters have signed deals with the NBA to show the championship series, 16 more than last year's old mark.

Newcomers include the first station from the Middle East, Jordan-based ART, sending a commentary team to cover the games in Arabic live for fans in their region.

"The NBA Finals is no longer just an American event. It is worldwide," said ART sports chief Mustapha Tell.

(Xinhua News Agency via Agencies June 7, 2007)

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