Grumpy Sam is back

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell is not thrilled with the idea of holding training camp in Europe. (Sun...

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell is not thrilled with the idea of holding training camp in Europe. (Sun File/Michael Peake)

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:01 PM ET

The Raptors training camp does not open until Oct. 1, but head coach Sam Mitchell seems to be in mid-season form in terms of being grumpy.

In a conference call with members of the European media yesterday, Mitchell did not seem over the moon with the idea of the Raptors holding training camp, and playing three pre-season games, in Europe this fall.

"We as basketball coaches don't like change and we don't like situations that you can't control, and right now, going with your team to another country for training camp with an eight-hour flight, in unfamiliar circumstances, doing things totally different, you're going to have to adapt," he said. "Because regardless of how everyone thinks and what everyone feels and how happy they may be, my job is to try and get this team ready to play; it just makes it more difficult when you're not in your familiar surroundings."

Mitchell did add that it is "an honour" to be picked by the NBA to host training camp overseas, but that doesn't mean he is thrilled with the idea. The Raptors open camp on Oct. 1 in Treviso, Italy and play exhibition games on Oct. 6 and Oct. 7 in Rome against the Boston Celtics and Lottomatica Vitrus Roma respectively, and then Oct. 11 against Real Madrid in the Spanish capital.

ANYTHING TO GAIN?

Mitchell was asked if the Raptors had anything to gain from holding camp in Italy, and his response was that he has no idea -- again, not exactly a ringing endorsement for the idea of holding camp overseas.

"I have never had a training camp other than somewhere where we're comfortable or familiar with," he said. "I understand it's going to be a lot of distractions so my biggest challenge is going to be keeping you guys (the media) away from our players so we can have practice time, so our players can get better!

"I hope everyone remembers that," the coach added. "We are there to get better for our team, so our focus is making sure we have the time and the space to do that and keeping the players focused on what they're there for: To get ready for the season, which is going to be a tough year. Everybody is getting better and we have to be prepared to play."

The Raptors will also host perennial Euroleague powerhouse Zalgiris Kaunas on Oct.17 at the Air Canada Centre. The Lithuiania-based team is currently owned by former NBA player Arvydas Sabonis. The game will mark the fifth consecutive season the Raptors have hosted an international team, having also hosted Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel), Benetton Treviso (Italy) and Panathinaikos (Greece) during the pre-season.


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