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Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors watches the ball during the first half of an NBA game against the Detroit Pistons at Air Canada Centre on October 26, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The tip off to the regular season was fast approaching when Pascal Siakam got the tap on the shoulder and was told the news that he was getting the start at power forward for the Toronto Raptors.

The rest was almost a blur for the engaging 22-year-old native of Cameroon, who made sure to make the most of his dream come true.

It was his first appearance in a National Basketball Association game and it was a start on opening night. That is pretty hard to beat.

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"It was amazing," the slender 6-foot-9 jumping jack said in the aftermath of the Raptors' emphatic 109-91 win over the Detroit Pistons at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night. "You work so hard for something, you don't expect things to happen the way they happen, but they do.

"I was excited and at the end of the day I was anxious just to get out there on the court and do my job."

Even an hour or so after the game, the stream of consciousness was still freely flowing from Siakam's active mind as he attempted to express what the moment meant to him and would have meant to his late father, who always dreamed of the day one of his sons would play pro basketball.

"I think it [all the emotion] hit me right at the beginning," Siakam said. "It was just like, wow, I'm here. They called my name with the starters and it was amazing. At that moment I just thought about my dad and everything. It was like nothing I can explain. I don't have words to explain how it was. It was just an awesome feeling, that's all I can remember."

Selected by the Raptors in the first round of the 2016 draft, the 27th player taken overall, the Raptors were hoping to ease the raw rookie into action, carefully monitor his playing time.

But that plan quickly went out the window with the foot injury suffered by Jaren Sullinger that will sideline him for at least the first couple months of the season.

Sullinger's injury left Dwane Casey, the Raptors coach, in a bit of a quandary.

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He could have elevated Patrick Patterson from the second unit and utilized Siakam off the bench. That would have been the conventional move.

Instead, Casey opted to give the start to Siakam, not wanting to disrupt Patterson who has thrived in his role with the second unit.

"And if Pascal, if he wet the bed or whatever, we can go ahead and get Pat in there," is how Casey not so delicately outlined his strategy.

But there were no embarrassing accidents on this joyous occasion for Siakam, who fit almost seamlessly into his starting role; not doing too much, but just enough, to make an impression.

He made a steal in the first quarter that led to a jaw-dropping hook shot from the top of the key off the fingertips of Terrence Ross.

Siakam would then sink his first shot as a pro, a six-foot driving hook.

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In a game where DeMar DeRozan stole the offensive spotlight with a game-high 40 points, Siakam was able to steal just a bit of the sunshine with a commendable 2-for-2 night from the floor for four points while pulling in nine rebounds in just under 22 minutes of solid work.

"He only scored four points but I thought his activity was a positive," Casey said. "I thought he was active and moving and had some tough calls, rookie calls, as the game went on. We'll take that from those guys. The energy, the where-they're-supposed-to-be was good, their spacing was good. And we'll take that."

Siakam had a front-row seat to watch DeRozan go off for his 40 points, and he came away impressed.

"It's one thing to watch somebody on TV, to see what he does every single night," he said. "And actually being there and seeing how effortless it was, it was just amazing, it was like poetry.

"He was just getting to his spots, shooting over people. It was just like, how does he do that? It was amazing. He's an all-star and that's the way he's supposed to play. And it was just awesome. I feel great to be on the court with him and just playing alongside of him."

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