Samuel Dalembert is no longer a member of the Canadian men’s basketball team, coach Leo Rautins revealed Wednesday after Canada’s 79-77 win over Korea at the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament in Greece.
The Haitian-born Dalembert, who grew up in Montreal, did not play against and was not on the bench for Canada’s win Wednesday.
“He is not on the team,” said Rautins when asked to explain Dalembert’s absence. “Everybody who’s here now wants to be here and wants to be a part of this team. If that’s not your agenda you’re not here.
Dalembert was ineffective in the team’s opening-game loss to Slovenia on Tuesday and was singled out afterward by Rautins. Canada is 1-1 and must finish third of 12 teams to qualify for Beijing.
When asked to explain whether Dalembert left on his own or was asked to leave, Rautins said, "I’ll just leave it at that.
"It’s a situation where there was a lot of things happening that I felt shouldn’t be happening. Something like this doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s been brewing."
Wayne Parrish, Basketball Canada’s executive-director, acknowledged there had been concerns about Dalembert prior to the tournament.
"Obviously, in a short tournament like this qualifier, it’s critical that everyone involved with the team needs to be pulling in the same direction," Parrish told Sportsnet.ca via e-mail. "There had been a concern for a while on the part of the coaching staff that that was not necessarily the case with Sam.
"This was a coaching decision, made by Leo, and followed consultation with his staff," Parrish said. "He had apprised me of his concerns over the past few days, and called to let me know where things stood immediately before the Korean game."
Parrish said while Dalembert remained on the team’s roster, it was unlikely he would dress for any of the team’s remaining games.
Forward Rowan Barrett, who led the team with 22 points against Korea, said the remaining Canadian players are on the same page moving forward.
"We're all unified," Barrett told Canadian Press. "We support our coach in his decision. There's total unity within our team here."
Barrett questioned whether Dalembert, who was born in Haiti but became a Canadian citizen last summer, understood what he was getting into when he agreed to wear the red and white jersey.
"This is not the CIS, the NCAA or the NBA," Barrett said. "This is FIBA basketball. It's a different animal. I'm not sure that everyone who comes in necessarily has the background to fully understand what this is, and the type of a grind this is ... the four games in five days, the eight games in nine days.
"As taxing as it is physically, mentally it's even more taxing. The bottom line is, you're thinking about the flag. We're out here representing our country."
Dalembert was sworn in as a Canadian citizen last August in time to join the team for Olympic qualifying.
He averaged 10.7 points and 8.9 rebounds for the 76ers last season.