'We wanted to come here': Raptors play an open practice in London Ont., Saturday
Dozens of excited Toronto Raptors fans wave back to Raptors player, Pascal Siakam, who greets them with a smile and nod in between dribbles on the court.
Siakam joins Fed VanVleet and the rest of the team in an open practice held at Budweiser Gardens Saturday evening in efforts the bring the community together following the London Terror attack against the Afzaal family in June.
"We’re against all forms of hatred and we definitely stand with the Muslim community that was effected here in London," Raptors Point Guard, Fred VanVleet said in a press conference following practice.
For Rashid Hassan, it was his first time watching the Raptors play and he says he was touched by the gesture.
"I love that there’s a franchise in Canada that’s supporting us, that’s supporting the Muslim community," said Hassan.
The money raised from ticket sales will go towards refurbishing basketball courts in London, thanks to the generous donation of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE).
And it’s not just the London community that is taking away from Saturday’s event. Coach Nick Nurse says it was the most energetic open practice match he has ever seen, adding he believes the main goal of the event was reached.
"It gives us a chance to use our platform to talk about these issues," said Nurse.
Continuing on with MLSE’s initiative, alumni from the Toronto Maple Leafs will hold a scrimmage Sunday afternoon.