Raptors to take on Sacramento Kings in pre-season Vancouver game

The Toronto Raptors are in Burnaby for training camp and will take on the Sacramento Kings in Vancouver on Sunday.

Fans from across the country are flying in to catch the team’s first pre-season game — a rare treat on Canada’s west coast. This will be the Raptors’ sixth time playing a pre-season game in Vancouver, and the first since 2018.

Marga Wormell tells CityNews she has her Raptors gear packed and ready to go, she’s flying in from Alberta this weekend to catch the team in action.

“I was able to get three tickets for us to go and I’m pretty excited about that. We missed out last year in Edmonton,” she said.

“I was excited to hear that they thought of Vancouver as a possible place to come and train and actually do some preseason games,” Raptors fan Saado Kazal added.

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The Raptors — who missed the playoffs last season — are led by Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, and new first-round draft pick Gradey Dick. And even a new coach after parting ways with Nick Nurse.

The Raptors opened their training camp in Burnaby this week, practicing at the Christine Sinclair Community Centre. The hype grew on Friday at Simon Fraser University (SFU) as players waited for the Raps to host their open practice in the Red Leafs’ gym.

“As it’s built up, they’re excited and they’re ready. Our kids are sitting on the end lines,” SFU Women’s Basketball Head Coach Bruce Langford added.

The excitement around the Raptors in town has renewed calls from local basketball fans to bring back an NBA team to Vancouver, a position that’s been vacant since the city lost the Grizzlies franchise in 2001.

“The basketball culture here is really strong. I think you can walk around to any court anywhere around the city and there’s always people playing and stuff,” Kazal said.

“It’s way overdue to have another team in Canada,” Langford added.

“I think doing it here is great. Vancouver’s a much better basketball market than the world thinks.”

“Hopefully with some interest, we need another [team] in this country,” said Wormell.

Enthusiasm and interest in professional basketball don’t appear to be limited in Vancouver either, as tickets to Sunday’s preseason game sold out in a matter of hours.

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