Turkoglu to see first action this week

STEVE BUFFERY, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:45 AM ET

Raptors head coach Jay Triano will finally get the chance to use all of his big guns in a pre-season game this week.

Forward Hedo Turkoglu, the clubs big off-season acquisition, practiced all-out with the team yesterday and expects to play his first pre-season game Wednesday night in Hartford against the Boston Celtics. If hes not ready to play against the Celtics, hell likely play on Thursday at the Air Canada Centre against the Houston Rockets.

He went pretty hard (Monday), so were just going to see how he responds to that and well make an evaluation (today), Triano said of Turkoglu.

For his part, the nine-year NBA veteran said that he cant wait to finally get into a game.

Im going to be excited and nervous to be honest, he said. I dont know how long Ill play, but Ill try to do my best to help the team.

Turkoglu has not played in Torontos four pre-season games because of sore knees and fatigue, the result of playing in the NBA Finals in June and also playing for the Turkish national team at the world championship qualifying tournament this summer in Poland.

The Raptors all-star power forward Chris Bosh recently returned to the lineup and this week will mark the first time the two NBA standouts will play with each other.

I had a good practice (Monday) and hopefully another one (today) and hopefully get some playing time (tomorrow) and hopefully be part of the team from now on, said a hopeful Turkoglu, adding that hes been both mentally and physically worn down since the end of the summer. I want to try to work my way up to the best shape I can before the regular season starts.

The Raptors open up the regular season on Oct.28 against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Air Canada Centre.

Turkoglu told the Turkish media this summer that he hopes to become an NBA all-star this season.

He certainly had a good year with the Orlando Magic last season, averaging 16.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists.

With nine new faces on the team since the end of last season, its been a challenge for Triano and his players to create chemistry and for everyone to learn Trianos defensive and offensive schemes.

We have a lot of talented guys who can do a lot of good things, but we have to be a group, said Turkoglu. Coach Jay is also giving a lot of young guys an opportunity. So were in a learning process as a team. Hopefully, as we get close to the season, well all become ready.

Our expectations are high but were capable of (living up to them), he added.

Turkoglu has only played with one other current member of the Raptors, centre Rasho Nesterovic. The two played for the San Antonio Spurs during the 2003-04 season.

Forward Antoine Wright, who has been out with a sore right knee, also practiced yesterday, but guard Sonny Weems, who jammed his big toe in Torontos win on Sunday, did not.

The Raptors are 2-2 in the pre-season, defeating the Washington Wizards, 100-93, on Sunday afternoon at the ACC.

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca


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