MISSISSAUGA - Hopeful basketball players gathered to showcase their talent at the University of Toronto Mississauga for a shot at turning their passion into a profession for the Raptors 905 Open Tryout last Saturday.
The G League allows each team to invite up to five players from their respective tryout to training camp in the fall. With 73 players at this tryout, most knew that their chances of making the cut were slim. Many of the athletes simply enjoyed the chance to play in front of the 905 coaching staff.
Head Coach Jama Mahlalela
“Across the board, I’ve been impressed with the talent,” said Raptors 905 head coach Jama Mahlalela. “There’s a lot of great basketball players that came today and that speaks volumes to Canadian basketball.”
These players came from a variety of backgrounds, according to Mahlalela. Whether they were a varsity athlete looking to start a professional career, a former pro coming back from injury, or a recreational player trying their luck, everyone shared a mutual respect for the organization for providing them the chance to compete.
“Just the opportunity to be here is a dream come true for me,” said Toronto native Myck Kabongo. “If I do get to put on a 905 jersey I think it would be something great for the city.”
Kabongo, having played for the University of Texas and professionally in France, represented one of the handful of players that had a favourable chance of advancing to training camp.
For the rest of the group, assistant coach and Megacity Competitive Sunday league player Arsalan Jamil reminded the less experienced players to keep hope.
“Every single little thing counts. If you never played against this level, that doesn’t mean you can’t make the team,” said Jamil. “There’s always a need for something. It doesn’t always have to be a basketball skill, it can be different. There’s leadership, being vocal. There’s so many other areas that a team requires.”
Open tryouts are particularly meaningful for mentor coach Tamara Tatham, having used an open tryout to make the senior women’s national team for Canada. The 10-year national team veteran retired in 2017 and joined the 905 this year as the first Canadian woman on the coaching staff of a G League team.
“Open tryouts are big because you can miss a lot just by going to the people you know, and then somebody might slip through the cracks because there wasn’t an open tryout,” Tatham advised. “Having an open tryout is great for the city and for people to see that they could be part of something so big in Toronto.”
“You never know where the talent is,” Kabongo added. “It’s nothing but a positive that we’re having things like this in the city. You’re a step away from the NBA.”
Tatham left with one piece of advice for anyone hoping to try out for a basketball team.
“You have to compete,” she urged. “Compete even if you don’t think you’re ready. If you’re competing and doing well, someone’s going to notice you.”
Fans will have a first look at who made the final roster when the Raptors 905 tip off against the Delaware Blue Cats on November 4th at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre. For more information on the Raptors 905, check out raptors905.gleague.nba.com.