Battle in the backcourt brewing

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

ST. CATHARINES -- The fight for the third spot in the Raptors' backcourt is heating up.

Mike James, who was acquired by Toronto for Rafer Alston on Tuesday, will assume the role as the team's No.1 point guard while Jose Calderon is expected to be the main backup. However, the third spot still is up for grabs and head coach Sam Mitchell said the three training camp invitees who were brought in to contend for the job, Tierre Brown, Robert Pack and Corey Williams, are staging quite the battle royale.

"It's a pleasure to come to practice everyday," Mitchell said. "These guys work hard, support each other, but they're very competitive. They go after each other in a clean way. I have no complaints."

Mitchell has been impressed with all three, but said the guy who stays with the team will be the guy who plays the best in pre-season games.

"I tell the guys all the time, sure you've got game in practice, but can you play at 7 o'clock?" he said. "So until we start playing, I'm going to reserve judgement."

Pack may have the edge in terms of NBA experience (13 years), but Mitchell, who can relate to the invitee's underdog status, insisted that each candidate will be judged on his play at camp, and not by how many years in the NBA they have.

"All these guys want is an opportunity," said Mitchell, who signed his first NBA contract on the back of Minnesota Timberwolves personnel director Billy McKinney prior to a summer league game. "If I did that (judged them on past performance), then I'm not being fair, because I'm already leaning one way or another, and I don't feel that way."

Of course, if veteran point guard Alvin Williams is able to recover from the microfracture surgery on his right knee, he'll play considerable minutes.

The Raptors, however, can't count on Williams being able to play, even though Mitchell said the eight-year NBAer is making strides every day.

EVERYBODY WANTS CHRIS

Mitchell said Chris Bosh will have to get used to being double-teamed more.

"He's in teams' scouting reports now," Mitchell said. "They're setting their defence to stop him. They're not going to let him get those wide-open, clean looks. And most people are going to try to sit on his lap.


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