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Raptors in high spirits despite fierce battle for final roster spots

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The Toronto Raptors may have wrapped up their preseason games with a win against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night, but the nerves around training camp are only growing as the team finalizes its roster ahead of opening night.

The team announced Wednesday that it was releasing forwards Freddie Gillespie and Reggie Perry, marking management’s first cuts of the preseason. Toronto is allowed to carry 15 players on their opening night roster, with an extra pair of two-way deal slots, currently occupied by Justin Champagnie and David Johnson.

Sam Dekker, Ishmail Wainright and Isaac Bonga addressed the media on Thursday, sharing their feelings over their uncertain futures and how they’ve handled themselves in camp.

“The clock is ticking; we feel it, we talk about it all the time,” Dekker said. “But I’m gonna root for these guys, they’re good guys and they deserve the spot; we all do.”

With the weight of his NBA dreams in the hands of the Raptors’ brass, Wainright maintains a positive spirit, regardless of the outcome.

“No matter how it goes, I’m not gonna hang my head,” the 27-year-old said. “I’m going to come out of this a better man, a better basketball player, [and] a better person.”

As camp winds down with their futures up in the air, Sam Dekker, Ishmail Wainright and Isaac Bonga have nothing but praise for this Raptors group. (Getty)
As camp winds down with their futures up in the air, Sam Dekker, Ishmail Wainright and Isaac Bonga have nothing but praise for this Raptors group. (Getty)

Despite being enthralled in arguably the fiercest fight for roster spots in recent memory in Toronto, the few hopefuls left seem to have navigated all the tension quite well.

“These are guys I’ll stay in touch with for a long time, no matter what,” Dekker said, adding, "this is the coolest group of guys I've ever been around."

“I'm always going to cheer for them because it's the weakness of a man to root for someone to fail."

Raptors culture just hits different these days.

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