NBA champion Raptors to host training camp for 2019-20 season in Quebec City
Organizers expect high demand for single scheduled open practice
The Toronto Raptors will host their training camp for the 2019-20 NBA season at Université Laval in Quebec City.
It will mark the first time the Raptors have held their camp in Quebec, and it will be the team's first visit to the provincial capital. The Raptors have played several pre-season games in Montreal in past pre-seasons.
"As Canada's team, we felt it was important to go out and visit somewhere we've never been before," Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said in a statement. "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."
The 2018-19 NBA champions will hold closed practices from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2.
Charles Fortier, president of the Rouge et Or men's and women's basketball teams at Université Laval, said he expects massive interest from the public — especially for the one open practice on Oct. 3 at the Desjardins Amphitheatre in the university's sports complex, PEPS.
"To dream about it is one thing, but to have them in Quebec City at the PEPS facility is huge for basketball, not only in Quebec City but in Quebec and Canada," Fortier said.
"At the start of the season, they don't want to be bothered too much, so it'll be closed doors. But the open training session will clearly attract a huge number of people to PEPS."
Fortier said they haven't yet figured out how they'll deal with demand for the 3,000 amphitheatre seats.
"There's going to be a lot more demand than that," he said. "We'll have more information in the weeks ahead."
Quebec City will mark the twelfth Raptors training camp outside Ontario. Toronto has held its training camp in Vancouver five times, including last year, as well twice in Halifax and Buffalo, New York ,and once in Victoria and Treviso, Italy.
Montrealer Chris Boucher, the only Canadian player in the Raptors regular lineup, said he looked forward to spending a few more days in Quebec.
"I found out this morning, and of course I was excited," Boucher said Wednesday from Las Vegas, where he's playing in the NBA summer leagues. "It's more time for me with my family."
Based on the response to pre-season games played in Montreal in recent years, Boucher said he thinks Quebec City public will welcome his team with enthusiasm.
"It's become a tradition to play in different parts of the country, and I hope it will open the eyes of decision-makers to the fact that there are people who love basketball in Canada and Quebec," Boucher said.
In addition to Boucher, the Raptors' lineup features two other French-speaking players, Cameroonian Pascal Siakam and Congolese Serge Ibaka.
The Raptors will fly to Japan right after their visit to Quebec to play two pre-season games against the Houston Rockets on Oct. 8 and 10.
With files from Radio-Canada and the Canadian Press