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London town beckons for the Raptors

HIGH FLYER: DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors
Photo credit: NBAE/Getty Images

TORONTO RAPTORS guard DeMar DeRozan recently took part in a conference call where he spoke on a number of topics including London and the Raptors’ chances ahead of NBA Global Games London 2016 where they will play the Orlando Magic on January 14 at The O2 in London.

Q: Are you feeling confident ahead of the game with the Magic next week? What are your thoughts ahead of the game?
A: It should be an exciting game. They beat us earlier this season, they broke our streak when we were 5-0, so just go out there and get a chance to redeem myself from the first time we played them and understand that they’re an exciting young team that we’ll have to come prepared for.

Q: You played in the NBA London game before. What did you make of the crowd back in 2011? Was it what you expected?
A: My first time going to London and going over there to play an NBA game was definitely awesome. They didn’t have one team they were cheering for, they were cheering for both teams. This is something I will definitely remember, and this is what made the game even more fun and competitive. I had a great time and I’m glad I’ll be going to represent the Toronto Raptors again.

Q: If you get any time off to spend in London with your family, is there anything in particular that you’re looking forward to do with them?
A: Anything. Give them a chance to at least explore. Just being in London is going to be fun.

Q: The Orlando Magic have had a great season so far. Are they the biggest surprise in the East so far?
A: I wouldn’t think so, because they’ve had a lot of talent in the last couple of years and all they needed was the experience, getting comfortable playing with each other and coming together as a team. I think this time around they just have the confidence and the understanding that they are a good team, so for me it’s really not a surprise.

Q: How do you assess your own form and the form of the Raptors so far this season?
A: Progressing. We continue to get better every single time we step out there on the court. We’re always figuring out ways how I can be better and we can be better as a team. I think every day is a progression because towards the end of the season as long as we come together, all that matters is going to the playoffs and that’s what is going to count.

Q: How important is the trip to London in terms of team bonding?
A: It’s definitely great just to get a change of scenery. Instead of going to our common NBA cities and playing, we’re going to another country, and we will take our families over there and they will experience something new that a lot of us haven’t seen. It’s definitely going to be amazing to go out there to have a couple of days there before we play and go out there to play. Just to get a new experience and share something together is definitely going to be awesome.

Q: What do you make of the O2 Arena compared to the ones you play in the States?
A: Usually when you play in the States, the crowd is typically cheering for one team. When I played at the O2 Arena fans were so intriguing. Having a game over there, they were cheering for both sides. If a team scores the fans were definitely into the game and that type of energy led to an exciting game and it was extremely fun.

Q: Given what you guys did last season, how did you reset the expectations to the team? On a personal level, once you become an All-Star, did you kind of reset the expectations on yourself?
A: Most definitely. You definitely have to step your game up even more from a leadership standpoint, pushing the guys to understanding to continue to have success individual-wise and team-wise you gain that extra motivation mentally to keep pushing.

The Orlando Magic host the Toronto Raptors at The O2 in London on Jan. 14 as part of NBA Global Games London 2016. The game is live on BT Sport 1 and BT Sport Showcase or via NBA LEAGUE PASS (www.nba.tv).

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