Basketball: Reigning champs Raptors begin Florida work for NBA restart

The NBA logo is seen on a basketball. PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI (AFP) - The reigning NBA champions Toronto Raptors began preparing for next month's planned resumption of the coronavirus-halted season on Tuesday (June 23) at Fort Myers, Florida.

The Canadian club was the first to arrive in Florida ahead of the planned bubble atmosphere at Disney World near Orlando, but will stay in south-west Florida until entering the safety zone in early July.

Should the Raptors return to the NBA Finals, which they won last June over Golden State, they would remain in the Sunshine State until early October.

The Raptors are working out at Florida Gulf Coast University, according to school officials.

The NBA announced March 11 it was shutting down the season indefinitely after Utah's Rudy Gobert tested positive for the deadly virus.

To comply with NBA rules and safety protocols, there will be no group workouts for the Raptors, with individual players working out in a safe and controlled atmosphere until group workouts are permitted once teams have reported to Disney World.

The NBA is expected to resume its regular season on July 30.

Their Monday charter airplane arrival came as Florida is enduring a spike in coronavirus positives.

The state became among the first to reopen for sports teams after early testing shutdowns produced relatively few cases in the first two months of stay-at-home rules.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse's wife, Roberta, is a former volleyball star at Florida Golf Coast who is from Brazil. The couple own a home in Fort Myers.

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