Aug 8th, 2007 by Inside Hoops
Samuel Dalembert of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers became the latest member of Canada’s Senior Men’s National Basketball Team today after becoming a Canadian citizen earlier in the day at a swearing-in ceremony in Hamilton, Ontario. Dalembert, was born in Port-Au-Prince Haiti, but moved to Montréal where he won a Quebec High School Championship and played on Quebec’s provincial basketball team before completing his schooling in the United States and attending Seaton Hall on a NCAA scholarship. Dalembert has kept his strong ties to Canada, with his family continuing to live in the Montréal area.
Dalembert is a six-year NBA veteran, all with Philadelphia, who averaged a career best 10.7 points and 8.9 rebounds in the 2006-07 season. A 6′11″ centre, with great athletism, Dalembert was Philadelphia’s first round (26th overall) pick in the 2001 NBA draft.
“I wanted to join the Canadian Team in 2003 but had a surgery and out for their season and so it didn’t work out,” said Dalembert. “But in the back of my mind I knew I always wanted to play for Canada and this time it worked out and just seemed to fit. To have the chance to play in the Olympics is really something special.”
Dalembert, making his national team debut, was also one of four Philadelphia 76ers listed on the All-Star Ballot. He is one of three Canadians currently playing in the NBA alongside Steve Nash and Jamaal Magloire.
“Having Sam join our team is a major coup for Canada Basketball for several reasons,” commented Canadian Head Coach Leo Rautins. “Sam is not only an active, young, intelligent, skilled, and very athletic seven-footer, that gives us tremendous options at both ends of the floor, but he is also someone that is passionate about playing for Canada. His desire and enthusiasm are genuine, and extremely infectious! Sam is a humble but driven individual, that has stepped up to lead the charge of helping Canada assume its place among the best in the world.”
The team is training at the practice court at Air Canada Centre until August 13th, when they depart for the Tuto Marchand Cup in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In addition to Dalembert, Toronto resident, Olu Famutimi is also making his national team debut during this week’s training camp. Famutimi, is one of four players (Dalembert, Denham Brown, Carl English) to attend an NBA training camp (San Antonio Spurs, 2006).
Seven of the players who are in camp most recently donned the Canadian jersey at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, including team leading scorer Andy Rautins. Rautins was joined in Brazil by two other members (Vlad Kuljanin, Aaron Dornekamp) of Canada’s 2005 Bronze medal winning team at the U-21 FIBA World Championships in Argentina. Ryan Bell, Rans Brempong, Jermaine Anderson, and Jesse Young also played in Brazil last month.
The training camp is in preparation for the 2007 FIBA America’s Championship in Las Vegas, August 22 to September 2, which will also serve as the 2008 Beijing Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The top two competitors in the tournament receive an automatic berth in the 2008 Olympic Games, while teams three through five will be invited to the FIBA World Olympic Qualifier to be held July 7-13, 2008 in a yet to be determined location. Canada, currently ranked 16th in the world, is one of 10 teams in the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship.