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    February 21, 2019 11:42 AM HKT
    TORONTO -- Jonas Valanciunas was knocked about by some of the biggest and best centres in the league in an inauspicious start to his NBA career. [b]Air Max 95 Clearance[/b] . Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, Al Jefferson, Kevin Garnett -- no matter the night, it was going to be a long one for the Toronto Raptors rookie. And as Valanciunass debut went, so went the Raptors, it seems. "Jonas took his whuppin last year early," said Raptors coach Dwane Casey. "We were 3 and 19 (to start the season). (Opponents) saw something good to eat with a rookie at centre. That had something to do with our points in the paint, our rim protection. . ." But the growth of the young Lithuanian over the course of the season became one of Caseys biggest sources of pride in a campaign he otherwise didnt have a lot to be thrilled about. "He had to learn. We knew that going in, that it was going to be ugly," Casey said. "But as the year went on you could see a young man growing, and it continued through this summer. Its not a finished product yet but hes getting there and I really like what we have." What Casey has is a stronger, more confident Valanciunas, whose command of English is also much improved from a year ago -- evident in his attempt at rapping when asked on media day for his favourite Drake song. "Started from the bottom now were here," Valanciunas said in his Lithuanian accent, prompting much laughter. But Valanciunas, whos considered a huge piece of the franchises future after the Raptors selected him with their No. 5 pick in the 2011 draft, has been otherwise all business in his approach to his sophomore season. The seven-foot centre has put on weight. Hes noticeably broader across the chest, his arms are thicker. Lithuanian national team coach Kestutis Kemzura went so far as to say Valanciunas had put on too much weight. "His coach is a great coach, does a great job," Casey said of Kemzura. "But his gradual increasing his weight will be good for him. Were not trying to rush him to get bigger, just maintain his strength. Hes got some obstacles to go against in the paint, and if you dont have some girth. . . youre in for trouble. Hes learning to play with that extra weight right now so were not concerned about it." The 21-year-old Valanciunas made 57 starts for Toronto last season, averaging 8.9 points and 6.0 rebounds. His field goal percentage, rebounds and blocks ranked among the leagues top-three for rookies. He went on to shine for the Raptors in the Las Vegas Summer League, winning tournament MVP honours, and then helped Lithuania to its first Euroleague final in 10 years. Hes healthy this camp, after a calf injury sidelined him for last years camp. And his teammates say the changes in the big Lithuanian from last season are obvious. "Hes extremely tanned right now. I dont know where that came from," joked Landry Fields. "Hes looking a lot bigger, a lot stronger, and more comfortable this year. "With him toward the end of the season last year, you could really see him get comfortable with who he is, and his role on the team, and I think with more practice, and the pre-season, what we saw toward the end of last year will come along at the beginning of this year." Valanciunas continues to take English classes and Fields said the improvement in his ability to communicate with teammates has been huge. "That is definitely something that will help him in his comfort level, and us with him, when we try to explain something, hes understanding. That just takes his learning curve that much higher," Fields said. "As soon as he gets it down pat to where its almost kind of slang, then well really be getting somewhere. Looking forward to that." Valanciunas isnt ready to talk about his rate of improvement, preferring to say he still has a long way to go. "If Im not going to work nothing is going to happen," he said, when asked for his thoughts on being the future of the franchise. "It depends how I work, and how is going to be my learning process. Im not thinking Now Im a future star. I know Im a simple guy, and I have to work really hard to one day be a star." Former NBA all-star and Toronto native Jamaal Magloire is helping him put in that work in a training camp all the big men say has been physically intense thus far. "Huge," Casey said on Magloires role. "He beats the crap out of J.V. every day. He gets him used to the contact. "We have some two-on-one drills where (Magloire) still gets in there and cracks people, they know its not like a little coach in there with pads on, its a real seven-foot guy who will knock you on your butt if you dont come in the right way. Jamaal does a great job of that, hes still in shape, and hes done a heck of a job of being a vocal and physical mentor to a lot of our inside players." The Raptors train Thursday in Toronto before departing for Halifax for two days. [b]Cheap Air Max 95 China[/b] . Toronto (11-12) gave up leads in 10-8 and 11-4 losses to the Baltimore Orioles this week. It was never close Friday as the Boston Red Sox got to Mark Buehrle early en route to an 8-1 win. [b]Cheap Air Max 95 For Sale[/b] . Kyle Denbrook, a soccer player from Saint Marys University, took the CIS male athlete of the week honour. Stanley, a fourth-year business administration student from Charlottetown, scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Dalhousie on Friday and tallied again in a 1-0 win over Saint Marys on Sunday.KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Blue Jays recalled outfielder Anthony Gose and selected the contract of infielder Steve Tolleson from Triple-A Buffalo in an attempt to jumpstart their struggling offence before Thursday nights series finale in Kansas City. To clear roster space, Toronto optioned infielder Jonathan Diaz to Buffalo and designated outfielder Moises Sierra for assignment. "Just looking to beef up the offence a little bit, and add a little team speed, something we dont have a lot of," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. The 23-year-old Gose was in the starting lineup Thursday night, batting ninth and playing left field in place of Melky Cabrera, who left Wednesday nights game when he was hit by a pitch. Cabrera walked through the clubhouse with his bruised left shin tightly wrapped but without a noticeable limp, and Gibbons said its possible he could pinch hit against the Royals. Gibbons also said its possible he could play Friday night when Toronto opens a series in Pittsburghh. [b]Cheap Air Max 95 Wholesale[/b]. "Hes doing better," Gibbons said. "He got hit pretty good, but theres no crack (in the bone) or anything like that. He just got hit square." Gose has spent parts of three seasons with the Blue Jays, hitting .238 with three homers and 23 RBIs in 109 games. Hes known for his speed but also his strikeout rate, and Gibbons said Gose must get that under control if hes going to stick as the clubs fourth outfielder. "When it comes down to the big leagues, its about production," Gibbons said. "Thats why its so hard to make the big leagues for any length of time. Guys go up and down." Tolleson, who was hitting .236 in 19 games for Buffalo, provides some versatility with the Blue Jays heading into interleague play. He has played in both the infield and outfield, though Gibbons said its likely he will platoon with Chris Getz at second base. "Maybe get a little more offence out of that spot," Gibbons said. "Hope he does something." 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