Final Score | Raptors 905 93, Agua Caliente Clippers 110 | Box Score
Two Ways: Shamorie Ponds (905), Oshae Brissett (905), Mfiondu Kabengele (Clippers), Terance Mann (Clippers)
Out: Amir Coffey (Clippers), Johnathan Motley (Clippers), B.J. Taylor (Clippers)
2020 began with the Battle of the GTA, as Brampton’s Tyler Ennis, and Mississauga’s Oshae Brissett, and Duane Notice took on Scarborough’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Burlington’s Mfiondu Kabengele and the Agua Caliente Clippers. Toronto’s Canadians combined for 56 minutes of play, while their childhood friends and counterparts played 64, with Ennis and Kabengele playing the second most for their respective teams. It was the expats who would leave the battle victorious, with the 905 trailing the Clippers for almost the entirety of the game, ultimately falling to their Canadian brethren, 93-110.
A Healthy Start to the New Year: Today marked the first time all season that the Raptors 905 had their entire roster available. Sagaba Konate, who fractured his fifth metatarsal during the preseason, was active for the very first time. In his 11 minutes, the forward/centre, anxious to get on the floor for the first time, would record 3 rebounds and 1 assist. Konate’s 6’7 frame, with shoulders the size of a small adult or large dog, gave Toronto the paint presence they desperately needed, and with time and runs, Sagaba will become an integral part of the 905 on both ends of the floor.
Jawun Evans: In a game where nearly everyone was having an off night, Jawun Evans was the difference maker, his effort and energy keeping Toronto in a game where they were simply outmatched. Evans’ ability to contort his body into superhuman positions to save any steal or ball heading out of bounds solidifies that, once finished with basketball, Evans could have a solid career with Cirque du Soleil. Listed at 6 ft tall, Jawun Evans was the smallest player on either team, but still managed to grab 5 rebounds. During the first quarter, a flying save from Evans and immediate pass to Anderson allowed Anderson to tip the ball in. With frustrations at the whistle discrepancy setting in during the third quarter, Evans ran coast to coast, almost getting his head taken off while doing so, and succeeded in drawing the foul. His 6 total points for the night do not tell the story of where the 905 would have been without his impact against the Clippers.
Passing: A fully healthy roster is all that matters at the end of the day, but to work new players into an already established system is difficult for any team. Unfamiliarity caused the 905 to turn the ball over 19 times, and allowed for 12 steals by the Agua Caliente Clippers. The 905 could have greatly benefited from the passing skills of Duane Notice, who was the one player that did not see the court. On the other side of the court, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, a primarily score-first guard, contributed 5 of the Clippers 23 assists, giving Scarborough the win over Mississauga. Adding passing to his skillset is great for both Canadian basketball and Rathan-Mayes himself, but not so great for a team expecting him to play isolation basketball almost exclusively.
Whistle: Blaming the referees is low hanging fruit, but the variance to which fouls were called and which weren’t contributed strongly to the 905’s defeat. That isn’t to say that the Raptors were on the receiving end of an unfair whistle (there was no Tony Brothers), but rather that it was nearly impossible to determine what would be called a foul and what wouldn’t. Playing, and coaching, through an inconsistent whistle changes the entire scheme of the game, as physicality can hurt a team one minute, and help them the next. Perhaps the most effected by the whistle was Devin Robinson, who was unable to get a call in his favour, but racked up 5 personal fouls of his own. Speaking after the game, Robinson refused to blame the refereeing for the loss, stating that players cannot allow the whistle to control the game. “If you allow the whistle to control the game, you’ve already lost” said Robinson through a cold.
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