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Red Claws have three months to reclaim their home court

The Portland Expo kept its doors open during the off season as a shelter for hundreds of people seeking asylum.
Credit: Rich Obrey/NBAE/Getty Images
Walt Lemon rises above the competition, literally and figuratively, as the high scorer in the Maine Red Claws' 132-124 win over the Delaware Blue Coats in Portland on Nov. 4, 2018

PORTLAND, Maine — The Portland Expo has three months to complete its transformation from an emergency shelter to the home court of the Maine Red Claws.

The team announced its schedule on Monday for the 2019-2020 season.

The Claws will play their first game on the road against the Delaware Blue Coats on Nov. 9. The home opener at the Portland Expo is set for Nov. 15 against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

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The arena stayed busy through much of the off season as the temporary home for hundreds of people who fled violence and poverty in their native African countries to seek asylum in Portland.

The asylum seekers entered the U.S. by crossing the Mexican border into Texas. Officials there bundled them onto buses and sent them to Portland. The first wave arrived in June and over the next several weeks, their number grew to more than 200 men, women and children.

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The Portland Expo became their temporary home until longer term housing could be found. They slept on cots with their few belongings piled beside them. Donations poured in from supporters. But others questioned how to pay for the services they would need as they entered the community with little money or English language skills.

The last of the asylum seekers left the Expo on Aug. 15, clearing the way for the resumption of basketball.

RELATED: Deadline day: asylum seekers leave the Portland Expo

The Red Claws are a G-League affiliate of the Boston Celtics. For their upcoming 11th season, the Claws' roster will include a pair of two-way players -- Tremont Waters and Max Strus -- who are cleared to play for both the parent and affiliate clubs.

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