It was a Joyous mood over at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, as the Toronto Raptors D-League Affiliate team, the Raptors 905, are officially up and running.
Just months after being established, the team’s training camp kicked off on Wednesday afternoon with a jersey unveiling. On both the Road and Away jerseys, the numbers “905” was big and bold across the chest of Sim Bhullar and Shannon Scott.
Side note: seeing the height difference between the 7’5 Bhullar and 6’2 Scott makes you realize how massive Sim Bhullar is.
The use of 905 was very important for the newly created team, as 905 is one of the area codes used for people living in the Greater Toronto Area. This is quite the interesting move as the team has decided to take on the mantle as Canada’s D-league team, just as the Raptors have taken on the mantle of being Canada’s NBA team. When I sat down with GM Tolzman, he touched on the team as “Part of the ‘We the north’ Mantra”.
Tolzman also emphasized the connection that the 905 have with the Raptors, want their team to be a mirror image of the Raptors as well.
That may take some time, considering that a large chunk of the players on Raptors 905 have not played in the Raptors system. Winning might not come instantly; however, coach Jesse Mermuys emphasized that development iss the main goal of Raptors 905. When I asked him about the balance between development and winning hehad a quite interesting response.
This is not to say that the team is going to struggle, in fact, the team is quite talented. The team boasts a lineup that is quite formidable. The 905 have the 7’5 big man Sim Bhullar, Ohio State product Shannon Scott, and unlikely story Ashton Smith. Not only that, but the 905 also bring in players like Axel Toupane, Michale Kyser who have practiced and played with the Raptors -- and suddenly one sees a team on the rise.
Side note: this is me puffing my chest out as a proud Canadian but there are 6 Canadians on this team Keanau Post, Ashton Smith, Kevin Thomas, Jabulani Newby, Shaquille Keith and of course Sim Bhullar.
The Raptors 905 pre-season kicks off Sunday November 8th at 2 p.m against the Erie Bayhawks. After that the 905 will get their first regular game ever on November 14th at 7:30p.m versus the Fort Wayne Mad ants. The date to circle your calendar is November 19th. That will be the home opener for the 905 as they take on the Maine Red Claws, tip-off for that game will be 7:30p.m.
Side note #2: for the full interview with me and GM Dan Tolzman click the link below:
Also I asked Coach Jesse Mermuys a couple questions in the scrum these were my questions and his answers: