Grizzlies’ Dillon Brooks on playing for Canada: ‘I plan on being there’

Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks (24) handles the ball in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (Brandon Dill/CP)

Dillon Brooks — a Mississauga, Ont., native — has enjoyed a stellar start to his third NBA season with the Memphis Grizzlies.

This summer, he hopes to translate that success to the international stage with Canada’s men’s basketball team at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria.

“I plan on being there, I plan on playing regardless of if I get a contract or whatever happens,” Brooks recently told NBA.com.

“I’m going to play for Team Canada because, you know, I missed out this year and I really want to play and make it to the Olympics.

“It’s something in my basketball career that I want to do — wear that red and white. It’s going to be a special year for us in Canada.”

On Friday, Canada received the news that it was selected to host an OQT from June 23-28, 2020 in Victoria, B.C. Canada, the No. 21 men’s team in the world in FIBA’s rankings, will have to win the six-team event (the other countries have not yet been announced) to advance to the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo.

Canada’s men’s team hasn’t qualified for the Olympics since 2000. The country hasn’t medaled since earning silver in the inaugural Berlin Olympic Games in 1936.

Brooks, who is averaging 14.2 points, 2.2 assists and 3.7 blocks through 12 games this season, would be a welcomed addition to a group that lacked star power during September’s 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Canada finished 21st in the 32-team pool, with only two NBA players (Corey Joseph and Khem Bhirch) on the roster.

In his conversation with NBA.com, Brooks acknowledged that he declined Team Canada’s World Cup invite to focus on making off-season improvements to his game. Brooks missed all but 18 games of the 2018-19 NBA season due to a sprained MCL and a ruptured ligament in his big toe.

Still, he’s a major supporter of Canadian basketball. Brooks follows the successes of fellow countrymen and uses it as motivation.

“It’s always like in college, AAU and in the NBA, you always look out for your Canadians to see how they’re doing,” he said. “It’s kind of like a competitive thing as well. You see someone go off for 20 you say, ‘Oh I want to get 20.’

“It helps the culture build up into a better basketball country.”

If Brooks has it his way, he’ll be part of the group that helps further grow that culture this summer in Victoria — with a trip to Tokyo on the line.

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