I’ve gotta say, I have never been a big supporter of pre-season games overseas. The whole concept just seems like a great way to tire out teams before the season starts. Keep in mind that not only are you playing games and running practices, you are also heading out to see some of the sights (and some of those sights might include the local talent if you know what I’m sayin’) and you will also have to deal with jet lag.
I also don’t know how beneficial it is for NBA teams to play the European teams when their style is completely different to what is played in the NBA. Let’s see, what can we can that style? Hmmm…how about “technically sound basketball”? Yeah, that seems to work. The refs in Europe are also really quick to get on the whistle, so if there is any kind of bumping going on down low, guys end up in early foul trouble. Half of the point of the pre-season for the Raptors is to get guys going hard to the boards, working on what was a definite weakness for them last year. When they are getting whistled so quickly for playing hard, it just doesn’t benefit them.
I actually managed to watch the game against Real Madrid, which at times was a little painful, especially without Bosh in the lineup (uh-oh…tell me this isn’t going to be a trend this year). How do the Raptors allow a 10-2 run to close out the first half? Tell me if this sounds familiar: Inability to rebound and poor shot selection. Er…yeah.
The thing that was great to see was the development of Bargnani, Calderon and Ford. Each of those guys looked like they picked up a lot of confidence from last season. Bargnani was making quick decisions, Ford was actually making some great passes and Jose did well pushing the ball up the court (but a couple of bad shots…heavy release). The most impressive part of the game was Bargnani picking up 7 boards. Okay, these aren’t NBA guys he was banging against, but 7 boards are 7 boards. It’s a step in the right direction. Wasn’t too happy seeing shot-happy Delfino jacking the ball around. 0-5 on some BRICKS. Still not too sure about that signing…Oh yeah, and Kapono was 3-10 with 1-5 from 3. Get it out now man, get it out now…
So in the end, the Raps lose by a point, which again leaves me wondering if this whole thing is really that beneficial. I think I would rather have the Raptors lose in North America against some NBA teams, learn a bit more and get used to what they are going to face during the season.
By the way, I’m all for pandering to the local crowds, but those Raptors “McDonald’s style” Spanish uniforms were dreadful. Yikes!