The Raptors, a show that promises

The Raptors, a show that promises

MISE À DAY

While the Toronto Raptors' first preseason game played Sunday night at Rogers Place in Edmonton is a good preview of what's to come later this month, basketball fans attending the game of October 14 at the Bell Center will be pampered. 

The Ontario team began its exhibition schedule by beating the Utah Jazz 114-82 in front of a packed house and certainly very delighted with the show that was offered to them. This introduction could well be similar to the evening that the Montreal public will live when the Boston Celtics will rub shoulders with the Raptors; in fact, tickets sold out within minutes of going on sale.

In Alberta, as was the case during an intrasquad game in Victoria earlier, the club's players and coaches appreciated the delirious reception to which they were entitled. The crowd sang cheers throughout the match and each successful basket was warmly applauded.

“The atmosphere has been incredible, it blows me away every time we show up at these places where people don't see us often,” guard Fred VanVleet told Sportsnet. Edmonton has been great. Looking towards the heights of the building, one felt that the spectators were involved from the very ceiling. The atmosphere was electric. From the moment we arrived at the hotel the day before, we were given rockstar treatment.”

The Desire to Win

Of course, motivation for regulars like VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes and others may be harder to come by during the exhibition schedule, despite the enthusiasm of fans in cities the Raptors visit. But the challenge remains real: convincing head instructor Nick Nurse that the desire to win is still on.

Then there are a few athletes hoping to carve out a place in the roster .

“We will see what can be transposed from training to matches. These are the same words I say all the time. First and foremost, are you going to put in a big effort? Are you going to compete? Will you play to win? Will you execute the plans well? Will you adequately fulfill your role? The list is long, but here are some ideas that can help guys find their place here,” said Nurse.

Before their visit to Quebec, the Raptors will play three other preseason games, Wednesday in Boston, Friday at the Houston Rockets and Sunday against the Chicago Bulls in the Queen City.