Siakam says he feels safe in Florida, despite explosion of COVID-19 cases

Siakam says he feels safe in Florida, despite explosion of COVID-19 cases

Pascal Siakam has watched the number of COVID-19 cases climb in the United States, particularly in Florida, where the Toronto Raptors convened more than a week ago.

But the Raptors forward feels that, with the team carefully following the NBA coronavirus protocols, he and his teammates are as safe there as they would be anywhere.

“Obviously Florida is one of (the U.S. states) that’s pretty high at the moment, but … the team has been doing a fantastic job in terms of making sure we’re kind of isolated, “Siakam said Friday during a videoconference. “Obviously, you’re kind of scared seeing the cases rise but you trust the team’s going to do everything, the NBA is going to do everything to make sure we’re safe.”

Because of Canadian guidelines that required people arriving from out of country to self-isolate for two weeks, the Raptors went to Naples, Fla., to prepare for the July 30 season restart. Toronto and the 21 other teams in the restart will centralize at Disney World in Orlando between next Tuesday and Thursday.

The NBA chose Florida before COVID-19 exploded in that state. There were nearly 9,500 new cases of the virus Friday, a day after topping a record-10,000 new cases.

“But at the end of the day, even being home and going to the grocery store is not that safe,” Siakam said. “So we’ve just got to do everything, do our best in making sure we have everything in place for us to be as safe as possible and hopefully we get the season back and it goes as smoothly as possible.”

Siakam, who was averaging a career-high 23.6 points a night when the season shut down March 11, figures he went three months without playing or even shooting a basketball, his longest break since taking up the game in high school.

“During the summertime I usually take like two weeks break tops,” he said.

Since the Raptors all went to their various homes during the coronavirus lockdown, the 26-year-old forward said it was great to finally see his teammates last week.

“It kind of feels like training camp again and the beginning of the season, you’re excited seeing guys and playing on the floor and stuff,” he said.

The Raptors are still limited to four players on the court at once, each shooting on their own basket. They’ll resume normal practice when they move to Disney World next week. They could be there for up to three months if they have another long post-season run.

It’s an unprecedented situation, but one OG Anunoby believes the Raptors can adapt to.

“I think we’re all going through the same thing, so we’ll all just adjust as it goes on,” he said. ”It may be uncomfortable at first but we know these are the circumstances you have to deal with right now. I think yeah, we’ll just figure it out as we go.”

The six-foot-nine Anunoby was having a terrific season when the coronavirus brought the sports world to its knees. He’d been looking forward to the post-season after missing last year’s championship run — he had his appendix removed right before the playoffs tipped off.

“I wish I could have played, but now I can this year,” he said. ”So yeah, I’ll use it as motivation and hopefully play well, (and hope) we reach all our goals.”

Anunoby said he spent the three-month break working on shooting, handling the ball and passing. He also spent of a lot of time getting stronger in the weight room.

He didn’t pick up any new hobbies during the down time, but has enjoyed doing his own cooking.

What’s his favourite meal to cook?

“Depends what I’m trying to eat for dinner,” he deadpanned, before adding his favourite meal is shrimp linguine.

The NBA restart has been a polarizing issue among players coming amid the racial unrest in the U.S. A few prominent players such as Dwight Howard have said it’s not the time to focus on basketball.

But the NBA plans to make social and racial justice a theme of the restart, and Anunoby said the players can have an impact.

“I think just spreading awareness, letting people know what’s going on… speaking up, people are doing stuff in their cities and their states,” he said. “So just using our platform.”

The Raptors, who were second in the Eastern Conference when the season shut down, will face the Los Angeles Lakers on Aug. 1 in their first of eight seeding-round games.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020.

Follow @Ewingsports on Twitter.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

Raptors victory rally

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

The Under $100 Art Market is asking artists interested in selling their art to fill out and submit the online form. Photo courtesy Maureen MacKenzie.
Lacombe’s Under $100 Art Market returns for the second year

The market will be held during this year’s Light Up the Night festival

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Alisha Bryan holds a handful of poppy sticks at the poppy laying ceremony on Oct. 28. (Alannah Page/Lacombe Express)
Remembrance Day will look a little different this year for Lacombe

The Lacombe Legion is taking COVID-19 precautions for people who want to pay their respects.

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

City of Wetaskiwin Mayor presenting the AUMA Above & Beyond Award to John Maude and Susan Quinn. Ren Goode/ City of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin County residents win the AUMA Above & Beyond Award

John Maude and Susan Quinn are being recognized for their role in Wetaskiwin’s sustainability.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Pilots Ilona Carter and Jim Gray of iRecover Treatment Centres, in front of his company’s aircraft, based at Ponoka’s airport. (Perry Wilson/Submitted)
95-year-old Ilona Carter flies again

Takes to the skies over Ponoka

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Most Read