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Old 07-17-2008, 01:25 PM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: North Philly, PA
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Default Dalembert Booted From Team Canada

Samuel Dalembert still has the Canadian citizenship he so desperately wanted. But his place on his adopted country's national basketball team - just two victories away from qualifying for the Beijing Olympics - is gone.
A source familiar with the situation said Dalembert had a major falling out with Canada coach Leo Rautins as the team was boarding the bus for yesterday's qualifying tournament game against Korea in Athens, Greece.

"This is extremely disappointing because a lot of effort was made to make this work," Rautins told the Daily News last night. "Sam's teammates are extremely disappointed in him and how he alienated himself from them."

Rautins said the rest of the players are unified and that - given the circumstances - feel they are better off without Dalembert.

Canada came back from an 18-point deficit to defeat Korea, 79-77, and needs a victory tomorrow against Croatia in the quarterfinals and a victory in the semifinals to reach the Olympics. The top three from the 12-country field qualify.

Canada's chances seemed far better with Dalembert, the 76ers center who was born in Haiti but lived in Canada as a teenager and worked diligently to gain citizenship.

"Something like this just doesn't happen in one game or overnight, it's been brewing for a little bit," Rautins, a star at Syracuse and a former Sixer, said in an earlier conference call with Canadian reporters. "Everybody that's here now wants to be here and wants to be part of this team."

Marc Cornstein, Dalembert's agent, was disappointed that anyone would question Dalembert's commitment, saying: "To question his desire seems a little ludicrous. If someone can explain what agenda Sam would have, I'm happy to hear it.

"I know Sam is very disappointed at the direction this has taken and I'm disappointed for him," Cornstein said. "I know how important this was to him. It's a very disappointing situation. This isn't the 76ers, where it's his job. If he didn't want to be in Canada, he didn't have to be. It meant so much to him."

Cornstein added: "It's been fairly well-documented that they've had a difficult time recruiting NBA players to play for them. Sam was a willing participant, becoming a citizen, playing last summer and this summer, coming off 82 games with the Sixers. If I have this right, he was there Day 1 of [Canada's] training camp . . . Good luck to Canada getting another NBA player to run to sign up." *
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