Sammy beating Canada's drums

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

He may not have been born in Canada, but Samuel Dalembert waves the flag of his adopted country with as much fervor as any home-grown Canuck.

As arrived at the ACC for last night's season-opening tip, Dalembert walked with Winnipeg native and former Sixers centre Todd MacCulloch, now a member of Philly's broadcast team.

Dalembert, who was born in Haiti, but didn't start playing basketball until he got to Montreal, answered the call for his country this summer helping Canada to a berth in next July's last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament with a fifth-place finish at the FIBA Americas Championship. Dalembert officially was sworn in as a Canadian citizen just before the tournament began.

The event did not come without a personal cost for Dalembert, who was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot immediately following the tournament.

"Oh yeah, it was worth it," Dalembert said of his experience. "I don't regret any of it. This (injury) was going to happen while I was playing and if it didn't happen (in Las Vegas) it would have happened in the pre-season. It's not something that I can recall that happened at one point, it was just wear and tear over time."

Last night's sellout crowd made its appreciation known. While every other Sixers starter was booed as they were introduced, Dalembert got a warm round of applause.

While the injured foot limited Dalembert's preparation for the upcoming season, he doesn't sound concerned.

"My job is (such) that I can get up off my sick bed and go do my job," Dalembert said. "Rebound and block shots. The main thing is the mental part. I've been focussing on that in practice and shootaround. I'm ready to go."

As important as he was for Canada, Dalembert carries similar expectations in Philadelphia. He's also trying to coax Steve Nash into playing for Canada.

"I'm working on it but I don't want to put too much pressure on him. He has already said there is a good chance but I'm working on him to come to the qualifier, too," Dalembert said.


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