The Raptors are heading to Japan. The NBA in association with Rakuten Inc. announced the exciting news on Monday. The Raptors will participate in a series of ceremonial preseason games in Saitama City, Japan in October of 2019. This marks the first time that the team will play in Japan.
The Raptors will play two games against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, October 8th ,2019 and Thursday, October 10th, 2019 at the Saitama Super Arena. The games will landmark the NBA’s 14th and 15th official games in Japan.
“The Raptors are proud to represent the NBA, Canada, and the city of Toronto as we head to Tokyo in October,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri explained in a statement to the NBA. “You have only to look at our organization to know that we truly believe basketball is a global game. We come from all over the world, and we are all connected through the love of our sport. We are looking forward to sharing that with basketball fans in Japan.”
Toronto's recent lineup changes are sure to make it an exciting match for Japanese fans. The Raptors currently being led by all-stars Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and MVP Kawhi Leonard.
Rakuten struck a ground-breaking deal with the NBA back in 2017. The organization now offers exclusive access to the NBA through a subscription service which has helped further popularize the sport in Japan.
“Our partnership with Rakuten has had a significant impact on the growth of the NBA in Japan,” Scott Levy the NBA’s acting Asian Managing Director stated. “Together we have expanded the availability of NBA games, introduced innovative content and conducted local fan activities. Bringing the live game experience back to Japan is a natural progression of our relationship with Rakuten and yet another example of how this partnership continues to bring our fans closer to the game.”