(Mississauga, On) Sunday afternoon’s atmosphere at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre was electric from start to finish. Juno award winning artist Jully Black passionately delivered both national anthems moments before the game.  This game marked the second of a back to back wrapping up an exciting weekend for the Raptors 905. Saturday’s game embraced Canadian culture with the Degrassi theme, as numerous actors from the show including Stefan Brogren were in attendance.

Sunday’s game commemorated Black History Month with the Raptors 905 wearing navy blue jerseys with the traditional African Kente cloth pattern down the side. There was also a halftime performance showcasing African and Caribbean themed music. NBA legend Wayne Emery, the senior basketball advisor for the Toronto Raptors was in attendance receiving a tribute as part of the Black History Month festivities.

The Raptors 905 have made it a staple to embrace African-Canadian culture. The team has made black history in its own right hiring former University of Toronto Assistant and Canadian national team standout Tamara Tatham to serve on the coaching staff. Tatham, who is the first Canadian woman to coach a G- league team, shared stories about her journey with younger female basketball players in attendance after the game.

The Raptors 905 were looking to rebound from Saturday’s tough 114-106 loss to the Long Island Nets. Facing off against a talented Sioux Fall Skyforce, both teams headed into battle with a 23-16 record.

The Raptors 905 got off to a rocky start giving away five quick first quarter turnovers. Skyforce center Raphiael Putney scored eight of his game-high twenty-eight points in the first quarter as the Raptors 905 struggled early on with their interior defense.

The Skyforce’s interior scoring eventually lead to three point shooting in the second quarter as guard Rodney Purvis hit two quick threes opening up a 44-36 lead with eight minutes left in the second quarter. Newly acquired 905 player & Canadian MiKyle McIntosh and Raptors player Malcolm Miller put together a one-two punch late in the first half and early in the third quarter, which lead to a twenty-point turnaround for the 905.

With McIntosh hitting three pointers, Miller getting inside and Jordan Lloyd aggressively rebounding, the 905 were able to erase a deficit and build on a 73-62 lead with eight minutes to go in the third quarter.

McIntosh has really come into his own with his new role with the team. His scoring has become more consistent and he is showing more familiarity and comfort with his teammates. The Pickering, Ontario native posted a 30-point performance earlier in the season and has gained the confidence of Head Coach Jama Mahlalela. Mahlalela commented after the game that because of his physical size combined with the ability to shoot the ball, McIntosh is a tough cover for teams that like to switch defensively.

When asked what it was like to be playing back home in the GTA, McIntosh commented, “It feels good to be able to play in front of family, they were only able to come out to a couple games when I was in college, and they couldn’t come to Korea when I was playing there. It’s really good, it’s nice to be around and see my Grandparents, family and friends.” McIntosh played his college ball at Illinois State and then at Oregon as well as professionally in Korea before joining the G League club. 

The 905 really showed their toughness in the fourth quarter. Miller took back-to-back charges; McIntosh was getting to the rim at will and center Derek Cooke Jr. turned into a viable rim protector.

When asked about the back-to-back charges that Miller took, Mahlalela responded by saying, “That’s why he’s an NBA player, he continues do the little things”.

The 905 used their 14 three-pointers to cruise to a comfortable 119-102 win and they will look to continue their improvement as they head to Ohio Thursday to take on the Canton Charge.

Jordan Loyd’s 25 points eight rebounds five steals and eight assists led the 905. McIntosh was solid pouring in 24 points seven rebounds and made three threes. Miller finished with 17 points and three threes. Center Derek Cooke Jr. had a very productive game notching a double-double of 10 points and 16 rebounds, including eight offensive. Putney led the Skyforce with 28 points. 

Written by Berkeley Moses

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