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China’s Wenbo Lu, left, and Canada’s Dillon Brooks vie for a rebound during Pacific Rim Basketball Classic action in Vancouver on June 22, 2018.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

If Dillon Brooks was angry over his NBA all-rookie team snub, he probably took it out on the basket in an empty gym after practice.

The 22-year-old from Mississauga had a standout first season with the Memphis Grizzlies and when his name wasn’t on the all-rookie squad announced last month, his supporters took to Twitter to voice their outrage.

Brooks let his backers do the talking, but he wasn’t pleased about being passed over, either.

“It kind of [surprised me] a little bit, I was kinda upset,” Brooks said on Tuesday. “But it motivates me every time to get better.

“I’ve been trying out for the Ontario team and getting cut, and now I’m playing for the national team, so it doesn’t faze me. I just find so many different motivations to get better. So, when I’m in practice and I want to leave early, it’s just like ‘I didn’t make the rookie team, so let’s get 50 more shots.’

“It’s ultimately just finding different motivations that help me stay focused and stay motivated to get better.”

Brooks averaged 11 points a night in his rookie campaign, exploding for a career-high 36 points in the Grizzlies’ regular-season finale against Oklahoma City.

Brooks has turned his attention to Canada’s national team ahead of its World Cup qualifying game on Friday against the Dominican Republic at Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum.

The 6-foot-6 guard scored a team-high 21 points in Canada’s exhibition win over China last Friday.

The Canadians practised on Tuesday at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre, the same building where Brooks helped Canada to a silver medal at the Pan American Games three years ago.

Brooks was one of Canada’s youngest players on that squad at just 19, but said that experience has paid off in the years since.

“It helped me a lot, it helped me get another look at the game, coming off the bench, trying to give energy, because I felt like that was my stepping stone,” Brooks said. “I was playing on a team full of men, and full of guys that played in the NBA, guys that played overseas, got a lot of IQ.”

Coming off the bench for Canada helped Books transition from being a starter for the NCAA’s Oregon Ducks to a backup in the NBA.

“It helped me a lot. My dad always said playing with men will get you better and stronger.”

Brooks said this experience will help teenagers R.J. Barrett and Andrew Nembhard in the same way it helped him.

“Honestly they’re just going to get better over time, and once they play games and get used to it, they’re going to love it,” Brooks said.

The two youngsters looked like quick studies in Canada’s two-game series against China this past weekend in B.C. Barrett poured in a combined 37 points.

“They were two of our better players,” Canada’s coach Jay Triano said. “They bring a lot of energy. Andrew is very savvy with the basketball, made very few mistakes, made shots when he had to. R.J.’s been spectacular, good in the open court, able to get in the lane, draw fouls at a high rate and those are things we’re looking for.”

Triano said he likes the mix of players on the team.

“We’ve got young kids that play with a lot of energy, we’ve got guys that know the international game and are savvy to those rules, and we’ve got long and athletic NBA players,” he said. “So, I like that mix so far. I think we’ve been aggressive at the defensive end and we’re going to continue to try to do that and create points with stops.”

Brooks, Cory Joseph, Khem Birch, Kelly Olynyk and Dwight Powell are the NBA players in camp.

Canada takes a 3-1 record into Friday’s game, in which first place in the group is on the line. The Canadians wrap up the first round on Monday when they host the U.S. Virgin Islands in Ottawa.

The second round of qualifying sees games in September, November and February.

The World Cup is in China in September, 2019. Canada hasn’t qualified since 2010.

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