It’s that time of the year again where NBA fever hits London and on this occasion, the Orlando Magic host the Toronto Raptors at the London O2 Arena, on Thursday January 14. Ahead of Thursday’s game, the Toronto Raptors took the time to visit some of London’s key landmarks before preparing for the big game with some practice at Imperial College’s Ethos sports centre. Fortunately enough, the Bespoke team were able to head down to the Raptors practice session and ask some of the stars some questions from their thoughts on the team’s championship hopes, their favourite music and favourite basketball trainers.
With All-Star being in Toronto this year, will you reward the home fans and compete again at the dunk contest?
DeMar DeRozan: Dunk contest? I don’t even know man, I’m not even sure I can comment on that
It seems you’ve really found your groove at the Raptors, what is it about playing in Toronto that’s helped you find your best form?
Kyle Lowry: I think it’s down to a lot of things; the organisation, the team, I just think it’s been the best situation for me to help me grow up as a player. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with two of the best guards in the NBA [including] DeMar and it makes life a lot easier.
Do you believe the Raptors are good enough to compete for a championship this year?
Jonas Valančiūnas: You know every team is capable of competing for the championship, so that’s what we are doing and we are trying to grow as a team and hopefully get to the playoffs and then from there we will be able to compete for a championship.
Lucas Nogueira: We have a great team and we have a great chance to make the championship, but we will have to improve a lot. We’ve played against a lot of championship contenders such a Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers and you can see how good they are and how good you’ve got to be to beat them. I think the league is just now really starting off, considering you play 82 regular season games – a lot of things are still yet to change. After the All-Star game people start to play more aggressive because they want to make the playoffs, so I think after All-Star things are going to change a lot, people are going to become much more serious, not only just us but all teams.
What are your personal goals this season?
Lucas Nogueira: From a personal standpoint, it’s tough – you stay here one year and half of it is on the bench and one day the coach calls your name and you have to be ready. Right now my goal, is if I still have a chance to stay here and play the basketball that I can play then my personal goal is to be ready for the Olympics, as of course it’s in Brazil my home country. But my professional goal is about receiving a future contract and that’s the most important thing whilst obviously concentrating on the NBA, but if the chance doesn’t come here with the Raptors I’ve got to be ready for the Olympics, I’ve got to work my socks off to be ready for the Raptors and be ready to play at the Olympics in the summer.
What song or album are you listening to a lot at the moment?
Lucas Nogueira: In the locker room, all we listen to is Drake and Future that’s what I listen to with the team. But on my iPod, I listen to Brazilian music – before I used to mix it all together with American music, but right now it’s just Brazilian music on my iPod. But I do love old school music, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Cure and Oasis with the latter being my favourite.
You can only pick one: what’s your favourite basketball sneakers of all time?
Lucas Nogueira: It’s very hard for me but since I started playing basketball when I was 15/16 years old to right now I loved the first 2 or 3 Kobes but right now I’ve moved to KDs.
The Orlando Magic host the Toronto Raptors at The O2 in London on Jan. 14 as part of NBA Global Games London 2016. The game is live on BT Sport 1 and BT Sport Showcase or via NBA LEAGUE PASS (www.nba.tv) and will be screened live at 31 ODEON cinemas around the country.