Final Score | Raptors 905 128 – College Park Skyhawks 104 | Box Score
Two Ways: David Johnson (905), Justin Champagnie (905), Sharife Cooper (Skyhawks), Skylar Mays (Skyhawks)
On Assignment: Isaac Bonga (905), Svi Mykhailiuk (905), Dalano Banton (905)
Inactive: Jodi Meeks (905), DaQuan Jeffries (Skyhawks)
The first two meetings between the Raptors 905 and the College Park Skyhawks both swung in the favour of the Atlanta Hawks affiliate, with the 905 losing both matches by double digits on the road. This time however, the 905 were able to maintain the lead from the first timeout of the game onward, improving their regular season record to 17 and 6. Both the Hawks and the 905 play an incredibly fast-paced game, but it was the 905 who were in control of the tempo from early on all the way to the end of the game. Even up by 16, when the College Park stole the ball from Breein Tyree on a straight lane drive, Tyree was already back under the opposing net before the Skyhawks could even dribble across centre court on a fast-break. Despite back-to-back games that appeared to head in the direction of blowouts favourable to the 905, the team never lost focus or got too comfortable with the lead. They didn’t rely on the performance against the Maine Celtics the night prior, and went into this game with the same vengeance that they have shown nearly every game of the regular season.
Selflessness: Svi Mykhailiuk was sent down to the 905 for his very first Toronto G League assignment, and while he took over completely late in the game, he started off quite rocky, shooting only 2 of 10 from three, and 4 of 14 from the field by the end of the third quarter. Isaac Bonga, who has been assigned to the 905 for almost every game and has the most professional and well-rounded view of his G League assignments out of any player assigned to the 905, recognized that Svi, like himself, was there to work on his game, get some minutes in, and basically get his groove back. Bonga himself is an excellent spot-up shooter, but where he excels is in facilitating for his teammates at both levels. He gave up many open looks, not because he lacks confidence in his shooting abilities, but because he recognized that Svi joined the 905 with the hopes of earning his minutes back, and wanted to assist him in doing so. With just 4 points of his own, Bonga totalled 6 assists and 4 offensive rebounds, nearly all of which were sent to Mykhailiuk and contributed to his 40 point performance. You can teach shooting and you can teach passing, but you can’t teach selflessness, which radiates through every fibre of Isaac Bonga’s being.
Stay the Course, Share the Rock: It’s tough for the regular rotation players when you have both two ways and three additional assignment players coming down and taking all of the minutes. It often feels like you are playing a completely separate game from these guys, and can eat away at the grit that the team usually plays with. This game was one of the first where it didn’t feel this way, and actually felt like a team game. The minutes were shared fairly evenly, as was the ball. The plays were cohesive and didn’t rely on assignment player ISO play. Everybody ate, and the game and team were both better for it.
Defence Wins Championships: The College Park Skyhawks have two of the top 10 scorers in the league on their team in Cat Barber and Justin Tillman. They have the league’s second best rebounder, also Tillman, and a top 10 3 point shooter in Marcus Georges-Hunt. The 905 were able to hold Barber, who averages 23.5 points per game to just 16 points, and Justin Tillman, who averages 24.3 points and 12.4 rebounds to just 6 rebounds and 9 points, while allowing just 3 threes from Georges-Hunt. Of the 905’s 69 (nice) total rebounds, 46 of them came on the defensive end.
2 Chainz is one of the owners of the College Park Skyhawks but I have yet to see him join the team on the road and come hang out in Mississauga.
The Raptors 905 head out on a three-game road trip starting in Maine on March 6th at 5:00 pm.