The international profile of the Raptors will grow later this year.
They will make their first journey to the Far East in October for two pre-season games against the Houston Rockets in Tokyo, the NBA announced Monday.
The dates, Oct. 8 and 10 at the Saitama Super Arena, will mark the first time the Raptors have ever played in Asia. They have played regular-season games in London and pre-season contests in Rome and Madrid, but this will be their first pre-season trip to anywhere other than the United States or Canada since 2007.
“You have only to look at our organization to know that we truly believe basketball is a global game,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said in a news release. “We come from all over the world, and we are all connected through the love of our sport. We are looking forward to sharing that with basketball fans in Japan.”
The NBA has not staged pre-season or regular-season games in Japan since 2003, when the Seattle SuperSonics and Los Angeles Clippers played a pair of regular-season contests.
The Toronto-Houston games will be the NBA’s 13th and 14th in Japan over the years, but the first in the pre-season.
“Bringing NBA pre-season games to Japan will help accelerate the growth of basketball in a country that features a thriving sports culture and one of the world’s largest economies,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.
The Toronto-Houston venture is part of the NBA’s aggressive global push. According to earlier reports, the league will also send teams to India for the first time, and to China some time in the 2019-20 season.
The league has often scheduled regular-season games in England and Mexico City as part of its international expansion plans.