Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Raptors 905 Drop Inaugural D-League Home-Opener 109-104 to Maine Red Claws

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Raptors 905 Drop Inaugural D-League Home-Opener 109-104 to Maine Red Claws

Article excerpt

Raptors 905 drop inaugural home-opener

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MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - In a fitting beginning for Raptors 905, a Canadian provided several of the highlight-reel moments.

Sim Bhullar, who grew in Brampton, Ont., just a short drive from Mississauga's Hershey Centre, threw down several monstrous dunks Thursday in the inaugural home-opener for Raptors 905 -- the Toronto Raptors' new NBA Development League team.

"It's fun, a lot more comfortable, can go home after, my mom and dad came to the game and it was the first time in awhile they got the chance to see me play live, so it was pretty good," Bhullar said.

Raptors 905 dropped a 109-104 decision to the Maine Red Claws to remain winless through its first three games -- perhaps not the way the franchise hoped to usher in a new era for Canadian basketball.

But the team and league officials say the new franchise is about a lot more than wins and losses.

"Thrilled about it," said Mark Tatum, NBA D-League president. "Very excited to be here with our record 19th team. It was a really fun process, but a really timely one. Masai (Ujiri, Raptors' general manager) and Tim Leiweke (former CEO and president of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd.) really set out a compelling vision for the business of basketball. . ."

The Raptors had been keen to have a D-League team close to home, where they could send young players such as Brazilians Bruno Caboclo and Lucas Nogueira to get valuable playing time.

A near-capacity crowd of 6,007 fans turned out for the inaugural game, paying anywhere from $9.05 up to $85 for court-side seats. They tugged on free T-shirts and banged Thunderstix. A noisy Toronto FC supporters group took over one section, singing and chanting throughout the night.

Scott Suggs had 21 points to lead Raptors 905, whose name represents the area code of the Greater Toronto Area.

The 905s trailed by as many as 11 points and went into the fourth quarter down 81-74. A huge dunk from Nogueira would pull them to within two with three minutes to play, but that was as close as the home team would come. …

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