Calderon a keeper for Raps

Jose Calderon made an impressive debut in the NBA during the Raptors home opener on Wednesday....

Jose Calderon made an impressive debut in the NBA during the Raptors home opener on Wednesday. Among the impressed onlookers was Raptors general manager Rob Babcock. (Toronto Sun File/Mark O'Neill)

MIKE GANTER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

It was a two-minute glimpse of what Jose Calderon hopes to be showing Raptor fans a lot more of in the near future.

Calderon, the rookie point guard from the Spanish National team, made an impressive debut in the NBA during the Raptors' 99-96 loss to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

During the second quarter, the point guard literally took over the game.

Among the impressed onlookers was Raptors general manager Rob Babcock.

"He made a couple of shots, he got a key steal and an assist to Mo Pete, he drew a charge, he tracked down a rebound, got a couple of breaks going," Babcock said. "He really brought a lot of energy to the team. He's a high- energy guy and a true point guard."

For Calderon, though, the only stat that mattered was the final score.

"I'm not happy because we lost," he said. "For me, the first thing is winning. If I play zero minutes and we win, I'm happy."

Calderon and the rest of the Raptors won't have to wait long to get another shot at a win as they play host Vince Carter and the New Jersey Nets tonight.

Carter, as he always seems to do, is sure to give the Raps fits. But Calderon has more than just Carter on his mind.

"He's trying to find himself," veteran Raptors forward Jalen Rose said. "He has only played one game and he's definitely going to have some growing pains. But he showed some flashes and hopefully he'll continue to get better."

The Raps can afford to bring Calderon along slowly with Mike James, brought over from Houston in the Rafer Alston deal, capable of holding the fort while helping to bring along the 24-year-old Spaniard.

Calderon believes his biggest adjustments have been off the court, where his lack of English is more of a barrier.

COMMUNICATION GAP

"Basketball is basketball," he said. "My problem is away from the court."

A communication gap exists on the court as well, but Babcock has seen plenty of progress in that department.

"He's learning (English) very quickly," Babcock said. "What really is amazing to me is that (despite his limited English) he already is a leader on the floor. He's smart, he knows all the plays and where everyone is going to be on the court. He's communicating with the coaches and he's always making sure everyone knows what is going on."

Where Calderon has some catching up to do, according to Babcock, is adapting to the size and speed of the NBA players and simply getting used to the NBA game. That's going to take time.

"Ideally, you don't want to all of a sudden need him to play 35 minutes a game," Babcock said. "Mike (James) will be able to bring him along at a pace he needs to. His play will dictate the rest."


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