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Raptors fans prepare for Monday's potentially championship-clinching Game 5

THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin, 10 Jun, 2019
  • Raptors fans prepare for Monday's potentially championship-clinching Game 5

THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin TIJ Raptors fans across Canada — and beyond — are gearing up for Monday's potentially championship-clinching Game 5 in Toronto. Viewing parties across the country are expanding as the Raptors look to make history by claiming their first NBA title against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Toronto leads the series three games to one after taking the last two on the Warriors' home court in Oakland, Calif. Outdoor public viewing spaces that have popped up across the country are expected to expand to accommodate the ever-growing crowds gripped by Raptors fever. In Halifax, Gab LeVert has been organizing block parties throughout the final round of the playoffs, and says the crowds have grown larger every game. "For Game 4 on a sunny Friday in Halifax, I don't think anyone could have expected what happened. We had hundreds of people overflowing into the streets because we were at maximum capacity," LeVert said. "Everyone was respectful, but everyone was so happy to be a Raptors' fan." An event in Regina is moving to Mosaic Stadium, home of the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders, after an estimated 2,500 fans turned out to watch Game 4 at City Square Plaza downtown on Friday.


According to the football club, the venue's MaxTron screen is not only the largest screen in Canada, at over 630 square metres — it's even bigger than a standard NBA basketball court. In Mississauga, Ont., crowds have increased at Celebration Square, where police say about 25,000 people turned out to watch Game 4. The outdoor viewing spaces are aimed at creating local versions of Jurassic Park, the tailgating area outside Scotiabank Arena that brings hordes of frenzied fans to every Raptors game. On Saturday morning, a father and son from Stoney Creek, Ont., were prepared to spend two nights in line to ensure they got a spot.

 


Twenty-year-old Zac Tiessen and 55-year-old Doug Tiessen call themselves "crazy fans" who also see the trip as an opportunity to bond. They said camping out at Jurassic Park is how they will make up for the time they couldn't do a father-son trip to Africa because Doug was stricken with Lyme disease. "This is a healing moment for us to be able to spent a really special moment and to make up for that trip we didn't get to do," said Zac.

 

Wearing his late grandfather's "vintage" Raptors hat, Zac said he and his dad packed three bags of groceries, five books, a dozen bottles of water and an iPad. "We've always wanted to make it to Jurassic Park, but we never have so this is our first time and it could be a crazy first time if they win," said Zac. "It's definitely a historic moment for all of Canada." South of the border, Toronto-born Raptors superfan Angela Tran is making plans to watch Game 5 in the heart of enemy territory — a bar in the San Francisco Bay area. Tran said she won't mind being around all the Warriors fans cheering on their local heroes, just as long as they can all share the excitement of the game together. Tran, 36, moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2010, but said she hasn't lost her "Raptors spirit." She watched Game 4 at Oracle Arena and said the presence of Raptors fans was strong in the sea of yellow Warriors shirts. "I think the average Raptors fan is very loud compared to the average Warriors fan. It was electric in there," said Tran. She said following the victory, Raptors fans in the arena got together to sing "O Canada." "I've always known how incredible Toronto is, but it's kind of life show-and-tell," said Tran. "We've always been able to tell, but not been able to show. But now we're able to show it." — By Alanna Rizza in Toronto, with files from Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton and Kevin Bissett in Fredericton

 

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