Raps to train in Europe

MIKE GANTER, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

LAS VEGAS -- Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo is looking to expand the Raptor brand wherever and however he can. Next year's training camp in Treviso, Italy, is just another step in that direction.

The Raptors are actually one of four NBA teams which will conduct their training camps as well as take part in a series of exhibition games in six European cities and four countries, all being billed as 2007 NBA Europe Live.

The Raps will train in Treviso from Oct. 1-5 and then begin a series of exhibition games in Rome on Oct. 6 when they take on the Boston Celtics, the first time two NBA teams have squared off in the Italian capital.

Colangelo said the schedule is not set in stone as a few of the dates are still in flux, but it's clear he's excited about the trip.

"It's new, it's out of the ordinary, it's a tremendous team-building experience and I know by virtue of all accounts of people who were in the (Phoenix) Suns organization last year (which was part of the first NBA pre-season venture in Europe), that trip is a great experience."

Colangelo actually helped plan that trip for the Suns and when he made the jump to the Raptors one of the first things he did was communicate to the league his interest in seeing the Raptors head over later this year.

"We were in line early," Colangelo said. "We made ourselves available ... The Treviso aspect of it is obviously the relationship with (Assistant GM) Maurizio Gherardini and the fact that Andrea (Bargnani) played there. The fact we are going to Rome is natural not just because of (Rome's) Mayor Walter Veltroni's interest in baseketball but certainly the Andrea connection there and him being a local product. The Spanish aspect of the trip is clear because of the two Spanish players we have here."

Colangelo said he's not concerned with the prospect of tiring his team out before the regular season begins.

TIME TO RECOVER

"If we schedule our things accordingly when we get back it should not be an issue," he said. "The guys will get plenty of rest and time to recover and the season will start roughly three weeks later. You have plenty of time to make those adjustments.

NBA commissioner David Stern was on hand and said Toronto was an almost automatic choice given its makeup.

"No. I they have a very diverse roster and going to Rome with Bargnani is a very interesting opportunity for us, but it is true that the Raptor brand and the number of visits to the Toronto Raptor (website) is very high on the NBA.com experience. They are very much becoming a team of interest to the international community."


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