Raptors Prep For Summer League Tournament Stage

Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com 

After a rough Monday loss, Bruno Caboclo and the Toronto Raptors were back to business on Tuesday morning. Practicing at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Jesse Mermuys prepped his team for the tournament-style portion of summer league.

Caboclo was thankful to be back on the court and get work in with his teammates. After practice concluded, the rookie worked with Raptors head coach Dwane Casey on drills for the better part of a half hour, eager to continue getting better.

“He’s good,” Lucas Nogueira said. “He’s not mad and sad [anymore] because it’s just a dunk. I think he said he’s madder because he lost by 30. Nobody wants to lose by 30 because we have a great team, everybody plays professional. We didn’t need to lose by 30…he’s not just mad at the dunk. He’s mad at all of the things in the game. He’s better today. He had a good practice. Yesterday we had a conversation so he changed his mind and keep focused on this game.”

Casey also spoke with media after the practice session and praised the intensity and energy shown from Nogueira. Stressing the need to be patient with young players on the roster, he pointed to the experience Nogueira has thanks to seven years of professional basketball under his belt despite being just 21 years-old.

“He’s seen a lot,” Casey said. “He’s ahead in life skills, communication. With him, he’s just got to pay attention to detail, stay serious about his work and keep his nose to the grind and Lucas is going to be okay.”

Once again holding court with reporters well after his required media duties, Nogueira emphasized Toronto’s need to play defence in the days to come if they’d like to advance in the tournament. Still getting familiar with his coaching staff and teammates, Nogueira is looking forward to his game conditioning improving as the days and weeks go on.

Explaining that the nickname “Bebe” has been with him since he was a kid growing up in Brazil, Nogueira wore a smile as he spoke about his family. Pressed on where his positive outlook comes from, he again mentioned his family’s impact on his life.

“Because I think my life is blessed,” Nogueira said. “I have a great family. They adopted me. In the NBA, they only have 450 jobs for seven billion persons. I have a job. I don't have any reasons to stay sad. I have bad moments in my life. Everybody has bad moments so I think, ‘Okay I can be sad sometimes,’ but 95 percent I want to be happy because I feel blessed. A good family adopted me, given me support all my life. I’ve played just seven years of basketball and I'm in the NBA right now so I don't have a reason to stay sad.”

While he has only been with the Raptors for a couple of weeks, Nogueira’s personality has already won over his teammates. Upset when he initially found out he had been traded by the Atlanta Hawks, Nogueira already feels comfortable with a Toronto team that he knows wanted his services. Most of all he is pleased to be in a situation where the coaching staff and front office believe in his talents.

There is still a lot of work for Nogueira to do before training camp rolls around.

“He’s going to have to come in and compete in training camp,” Casey said. “Work the rest of the summer. I don't see any reason why he couldn’t [be on the roster next season]. It just depends on how much stronger he gets before October, which he’s got a long period of time to do it. Pick up staying low…You can’t teach his wingspan, neither of their [Nogueira and Caboclo’s] wingspans.”

For the rest of the summer, Casey wants Nogueira focused on getting stronger so he isn’t able to be bumped out of position under the basket. In the meantime, he also wants him to continue to enjoy the process.

“Keep growing,” Casey said. “Keep that smile. Keep that youthful enthusiasm.”