by Yanni Andreopoulos
The Raptors managed a remarkable turnaround last season, winning 20 more
games than in 2005-06 and making the playoffs for the first time in five years, with a relatively young and inexperienced roster. However, the Raptors are still
disappointed about their first round loss to New Jersey. The team hopes that certain key off-season roster moves, combined with the experience of last
seasonís playoff appearance will bode well for 2007-08 season.
In Lottomatica, the Raptors face a Euroleague mainstay, a former Euroleague champion (1984) and team that is always ranked among the top teams in Europe. The addition of Allan Ray from the Boston Celtics was very well received by those who follow European basketball closely. The team will be preparing for another strenuous Euroleague campaign. Last season Lottomatica made it to the Top 16, but failed to advance to the quarterfinals. They will be keen on improving on that performance this season. If they are to do so, however, they must do so without European basketball legend Dejan Bodiroga (whom some consider the best player never to have played in the NBA), who retired last season and is now the general manager of the team.
The Roman crowd will no doubt welcome the homecoming of native son Andrea Bargnani, the Raptorsí no. 1 overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft, who was born and started his professional career in Rome (though not with Lottomatica Virtus Roma).