The defending champion Toronto Raptors have a few months to go before they officially turn their minds to the 2019-20 season. As for us, the fans, we’re already wondering what the team will look like come October. To whet the appetite, Toronto has announced their training camp plans.
For the first time in their franchise’s history, the Raptors will get their season started in Quebec City on the Laval University campus. For a hit of official enthusiasm, here’s a quite from Raptors (and Team Canada) coach Nick Nurse, from the team’s PR release:
“As Canada’s team, we felt it was important to go out and visit somewhere we’ve never been before. We’re really looking forward to taking advantage of the excellent facilities at Laval, which we know is one of Canada’s great sporting schools, and to soaking in the incredible old-world atmosphere of Quebec.”
Meanwhile, the Athletic Director of Laval University, Julie Dionne, also had some things to say about the Raptors trekking out to the university:
”We are extremely pleased and proud that the reigning NBA champions have chosen the Université Laval PEPS to hold a portion of their next training camp. For the advancement of basketball in Quebec City, it is extraordinary that the Toronto Raptors will come to play in our high-quality facilities, which will benefit from this important showcase. We cannot wait to welcome the entire organization here!”
The Raptors will hold closed practices from September 29th to October 2nd, with a media day in Toronto on Sept. 28th. For the benefit of French Canadian Raptors fans, the squad will carry out an open practice on October 3rd in the Amphithéâtre Desjardins-Université Laval located inside the PEPS facility (I’ll assume some alumni can tell me what that acronym is all about.)
There’s a nice little bit of kismet here, of course, with the Raptors’ Chris Boucher hailing from Montreal. On top of that, they’ve also got the most amount of French-speaking players in the league — with Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam joining Boucher as speakers of the language. (One of my favourite memories from last season is definitely Ibaka, Siakam, and Boucher laughing and joking in French while Malcolm Miller sat in the middle looking at the assembled media with a bemused expression on his face.)
The Raptors have been all over the place for their past training camps in Canada — Vancouver, Victoria, and Halifax — as well as Treviso, Italy and, uh, Buffalo, New York. And remember: right after their training camp they head to Tokyo, Japan to play the Houston Rockets on Oct. 8 and 10th as part of Toronto’s run of preseason games.
It’s never to soon to get excited for the defending champion Toronto Raptors to take the court once again.