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Raptors received 'rock-star' treatment for preseason game in Edmonton

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) shares a laugh with teammate Pascal Siakam during a break in play. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) shares a laugh with teammate Pascal Siakam during a break in play. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

The Toronto Raptors are the only team in the NBA that has an entire country supporting them, and Fred VanVleet will never get tired of the love he feels from coast to coast.

Toronto played a preseason game in Edmonton on Sunday against the Utah Jazz and VanVleet raved about how special of an experience it was.

"It blows me away every time we get a chance to come to these different places that don't get to see us as much," VanVleet told reporters after the Raptors' victory. "Edmonton was amazing. You look up to the rafters and it felt like people were hanging from the ceiling. It was just electric.

"From the moment we checked into the hotel it was rock-star treatment, and hopefully we put on a good show for them. It was just special, but it shows the Raptor brand and just how big we have grown and what we mean to the people and what the game means, what the team means being Canada's team right now."

The Raptors are in the middle of a mini Canadian tour before they return to Toronto for the start of the regular season on Oct. 19. The team held its training camp in Victoria, B.C., and will play a preseason game in Montreal on Oct. 14.

Touring across the country is something Raptors head coach Nick Nurse doesn't take for granted as basketball continues to rise in popularity in Canada.

"It's a great thing that the organization has decided to do to kind of to move around the country," Nurse said last week. "And we get repaid very well with the great support. And, again, it's something special to have a whole country behind you, as you all know. And it's nice to see it in person again."

Toronto enters the 2022-23 campaign with heightened expectations coming off a year in which the club finished fifth in the Eastern Conference. The core of the team remains intact, headlined by VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes.

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