The Toronto Raptors might be 24-15, just behind Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference standings, but they own a 0-2 record in London.
And the Raptors fans in London will hope to see their team for an entire game, this time.
The 2011 two-regular game series in London saw the Raptors lose to the New Jersey Nets 116-103 before an epic triple overtime thriller that saw Andrea Bargnani agonisely miss a potential game-winner for Toronto but instead hand the Nets a 137-136 win.
The triple overtime clash ended at midnight, leaving the fans that remained scrambling for the last train home, but for the Raptors players: heartbreak.
The 2016 Toronto Raptors unit though is much different to the 2011 version. Only DeMar DeRozan has stayed on, and unlike the 2011 team, this one is second in the East and barring a major collapse, looking good for the spot in the post-season.
For DeRozan – he hasn’t forgotten his last O2 Arena experience.
“Most definitely, we want to come out here and redeem ourselves,” said Toronto veteran DeMar DeRozan, then a second-year player in 2011.
“We want to leave London soil with a win.”
“The experience has been great,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “The guys have enjoyed it but we haven’t forgotten why we’re here. We have a game tomorrow night against the Orlando Magic, a tough team but a great experience, a great city, great hospitality and we are enjoying being here for the NBA.”
Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas was a Lietuvos Rytas player back when Toronto were in London, but he remembers the game well and wants the Raptors to put a tick in the win column.
“I watched the games in 2011 on my laptop,” the Lithuanian international remembers. “But I am not comparing the 2011 team to this year’s team. We want to win, we are here on very important business and we want to keep our Playoff dreams alive.”