Final Score | Raptors 905 103 – Fort Wayne Mad Ants | Box Score
Two Ways: Terry Taylor (Mad Ants)
On Assignment – Isaac Bonga (905), Nate Hinton (Mad Ants)
Inactive: Josh Hall (905), Reggie Perry (905), David Johnson (905), Justin Champagnie (905), Ashton Hagans (905), DJ McCall (Mad Ants), Jaylen Fisher (Mad Ants), Justin Anderson (Mad Ants), Daxter Miles Jr. (Mad Ants), Duane Washington Jr. (Mad Ants)
The woes of the games leading up to the Showcase Cup are long behind and wiped from the record as the Raptors 905 begin the G League regular season. The 905 came out of the gate hot, defending high on the perimeter and making the Mad Ants work for every single shot. Only twice did the 905 misread the Mad Ants’ play, allowing them to drive unchallenged through the lane for a layup, but these mistakes were quickly corrected and the second half did not see a single Fort Wayne clear lane drive. The only lead change came in the first quarter, with the 905 quickly extinguishing it and at one point holding a 24 point lead. Gone were the days of the 905 unravelling due to frustration, and even with the whistle discrepancy they managed to stay the course as cool as a group of cucumbers.
Friends Old and New: It’s been 4 years since Aaron Best last suited up for the 905, and life in the G league means that when he returned, the entire organization was different from top to bottom, but if you were to wake up from a 4 year slumber, you would think that he had been the one constant on an ever-changing roster. The energy he brought defensively, which longtime 905 fans will remember, inspired the rest of the team to play just as hard and to challenge every shot. His impact on the stat sheet; 13 points and 10 rebounds was necessary, but his impact on the court won the game. Best was joined by Justin Smith, an undrafted forward from the University of Arkansas as the two new additions to the Raptors 905’s roster. It’s one thing to join a team on late notice, and another thing to be immediately inserted into the starting lineup. Smith totalled the most minutes for the 905 in his debut with 45, and like Best, was active on the boards and defensively, totalling 10 rebounds. Adding the length of Best and Smith allowed some of the other players, Kevon Harris and Breein Tyree, to play smaller and succeed at the 2 and 1 positions.
New Action: The Raptors 905 utilized Romaro Gill in a way that we hadn’t seen before, and it had a 100% success rate. When the 905 had possession on the inbounds play, the inbounding player would throw it high to Gill. Because no one can guard the 7’2 Jamaican centre, he would grab the high pass and hold it for the roller, who would curl towards Gill for the handoff, allowing the 905 almost a complete reset off of the inbounds.
Career Night: Obadiah Noel scored a career high 28 points, and he did it in 30 minutes off of the bench. He was red-hot from beyond the arch, missing only a single 3-point attempt in the 4th quarter. Not bad for a tryout player.
Nitpicking: This is the part I hate because it was a spectacular game, but this is the format I chose so damn it I will commit to it. This was probably the least impressive game we’ve seen from both Isaac Bonga and Andrew Rowsey thus far. Both Bonga and Rowsey finished with 5 fouls, most of which occurred early. In Rowsey’s case, his first foul was on the first possession of the game. He only saw 12 minutes of action, but after going down with an injury in the first quarter he appeared just a little off on both shooting and passing in his first start for the 905. Despite lacking the usual presence he brings every time he is down with the 905, Bonga still grabbed 9 rebounds to go along with his 12 points. The problem with his 9 rebounds is that they were all on the defensive end, and the 905 needed him to grab them on the offensive end as well to rack up their second chance points. There were times he looked lost, and his energy was noticeably lower BECAUSE HE WAS COMING BACK FROM COVID. I have no doubts that both of these guys will get back to what we are used to seeing from them.
The Raptors 905 will stay in Fort Wayne to take on the Mad Ants again on Saturday, January 8th at 1:00 pm.