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Raptors Daily Dish: 8-10-12
Raptors ready for a Real challenge | Basketball | Sports | Toronto Sun
The Raptors know that taking international competition like Real Madrid for granted would be a mistake.
In seven meetings with non-NBA clubs, Toronto has lost twice, including back in 2007 when the teams previously met in Spain.
While still better, NBA teams are no long miles ahead of the world’s other top clubs.
“Those days are long gone,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said on Sunday of simply needing to walk into a gym to beat outsiders.
“Just look at the Olympics. Look how good those teams are just because the NBA has done such a good job of filtering in European players, those guys have taken the game back to their country, the coaching has got much better ... The overall style of play is close to what we’re trying to play now too,” he said.
“People that say that NBA teams should (always) beat these teams are full of it just because they have guys who are trying to prove something, have gone back for more money, they have NBA talent on their team ... That myth is long gone now and that’s good for basketball around the world.”
Madrid has former NBAers like Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez and future players like Nikola Mirotic, a Bulls prospect considered one of the best big men not currently playing in the NBA and Sergio Llull, a promising point guard who should complement Jeremy Lin in Houston one day.
The visitors also have the advantage of already being in game shape, unlike the Raptors, who just finished training camp. Real Madrid already won the Spanish SuperCup two weeks ago.
“It’s going to be a really good first test,” said Jose Calderon, expected to see considerable action with Kyle Lowry doubtful.
“It’s always tough because, we’ve been working for 5-6 days in a row and we’re just going to (jump right into) a game, but they’ve had the training camp done, the season already started so everything, the flow is going to be a little bit easier for them.”
Casey recognizes the challenge, but doesn’t expect the Raptors to back down by any means.
“They’re (Madrid) going to be on level 10 and we’re probably at five or six or something like that. They’re at a different level ... and our guys are still kind of in training camp mode,” Casey said.
“(But) we want to come out and compete. Every time you walk on the court you’re trying to kick somebody’s butt and take it from that standpoint.”
Toronto previously has hosted teams from Greece, Italy Israel, Lithuania and Russia, so fittingly, in what might be Calderon’s final year with the team, a Spanish club will be in the building.
“It’s nice after eight years to have a Spanish team here,” Calderon said.
With a handful of Spanish national team buddies on the roster, Calderon said he has been providing some scouting report updates.
Though looking forward to the matchup, the competitor in Calderon yearns for a clearer test.
Raptors face first real test against Real Madrid - thestar.com
The angst was palpable among Raptors fans — in some ways it was more like shame — way back in 2005 when they lost a home exhibition game to Maccabi Tel Aviv.
How could they, the people asked? What has become of the franchise when it can’t even beat — sniff! — a non-North American team? Time to shutter the franchise, wear a scarlet letter, the world has turned upside down.
Those days are gone — they were gone then, it’s just that few noticed — and when Toronto opens its exhibition season Monday night against Real Madrid, the outcome will not — nor should it — be a foregone conclusion.
“Those days are long gone,” coach Dwane Casey said Sunday after putting his team through a three-hour workout at the Air Canada Centre. “They’ve got NBA talent on their team. People who say that NBA teams should beat these teams are full of it.”
There is no question about the talent Real Madrid brings and the test it will provide the Raptors, who will be playing their first game at full speed against a quality opponent.
Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez are NBA veterans, Sergio Llull is the best point guard in the Spanish league, Chicago Bulls draft pick Nikola Mirotic is thought by some scouts to be the best young big man in Europe and Lithuanian power forward Martynas Pocius is tremendously skilled.
Toss in the fact that Real Madrid has already gone through training camp and a Spanish pre-season Cup competition that they won, and it’s beyond doubt the Raptors will be in tough to win.
But does it matter? The pressure on NBA teams to dominate teams from Europe in the pre-season has surely dissipated.
“It’s been like that for a lot of years but sometimes you lose, sometimes you win,” said Raptors guard Jose Calderon, a willing host to the four or five Spanish national team teammates at a Sunday dinner. “I’d love to have a game maybe in April when every team is in the same position if someone wants to really see what is the level of every league.
“It is what it is, everybody has their own agenda. . . . It’s a basketball game, it’s an exhibition game and you work to get better.”
To that point, Casey isn’t going to be too concerned about the outcome; he’ll be far more interested in how his team handles “real” competition. Saturday’s end-of-training-camp scrimmage in Halifax was little more than a glorified practice; Monday will give the coach a fuller understanding of where his team is.
“They’re going to be on level 10 and we’re probably at five or six or something like that,” said Casey. “They’re at a different level with the nuances, into their second or third options, playing together, know each other.
New Raptor Fields looking forward to playing in hockey-mad Toronto - The Globe and Mail
y Fields isn’t bothered about leaving basketball-mad New York for hockey-crazed Toronto. The 24-year-old, 6-foot-7 guard and small forward, one of the Toronto Raptors’ new acquisitions, has already figured out a strategy.
“I’m going to be right there with them,” says the California native, who is starting his third NBA season, having played his first two with the New York Knicks.
“Hopefully, once the hockey lockout ends I will be right there banging on the glass. I think in the spirit of Canada and Toronto and the Maple Leafs, I gotta go and support [them].”
Fields and his team are in Halifax this week for a preseason training camp. Now, he is “in the bucket,” conducting interviews while soaking his feet in a pail of ice water. His knees are wrapped in ice and plastic.
It was a rigorous practice Thursday and Fields says he’s taking “preventative measures” to get rid of the swelling of his feet and all the lactic acid that has built up in his legs. This is in anticipation of a whale-watching expedition he and his teammates are planning for their one afternoon off from what has so far been an intense camp.
“It’s been a couple of tough days on the body so we’ll see how I feel. I’m about 50-50 right now but I think it will be exciting,” he says about going out on the ocean in hopes of seeing whales.
The players return to the court Friday for two more practices, ending their week in Halifax on Saturday with an intrasquad game that is open to the public.
Basketball is popular in Halifax and throughout Nova Scotia. This is the fourth time the Raptors have had their training camp in the city. In past years, the team has travelled to other cities, including Ottawa, Kitchener, Ont., and Vancouver in an attempt to spread the brand and give the players a chance to bond as a team without the distractions of being at home.
Fields admits that he had never even heard of the Nova Scotia capital before he arrived this week.
“I had no idea it even existed, embarrassingly,” he said.
Although Canadian geography may not be his strong suit, the Stanford University graduate is considered to be a “smart player” – the term comes up again and again when Raptors management describe his abilities.
“His basketball IQ is extremely good,” says Ed Stefanski, executive vice-president of basketball operations. “In the game of basketball with five people, spacing is important, how to set up other people to get shots, where to be to get open to get your shot, he has all those ingredients.”
SS Girl: Shona
RF Girl of the day: N/A
RF Male of the day: Ryan Reynolds
Last edited by jeffb; 10-08-2012 at 02:10 PM.