Source : FIBA.com
ANTANANARIVO (Afrobasket) - As sporting moments go, the one Tunisia's players experienced when the final buzzer sounded at the end of the Afrobasket gold medal game on Sunday in Madagascar may never be topped.
Tunisia defeated Angola 67-56 to not only with the title, but also qualify for the London Games.
No basketball team from Tunisia has ever played at an Olympics but that is going to change next summer when Adel Tlatli and Co run onto the floor in Britain.
Led by point guard Marouan Kechrid, who had a game-high 21 points, Tunisia knocked off the giants of Africa, a team that had won every African title since 1989 save one - in 1997 when Senegal prevailed in the championship.
Salam Mejri had a game-high 15 rebounds and three blocks to go with his two points for Tunisia on Sunday and was named MVP of the Afrobasket.
Mejri averaged 8.9 points, nine rebounds and 2.4 blocks in the tournament.
He was elated.
"This is the most beautiful day of my life - August 28, 2011," Mejri said.
"I will remember this date all my life.
"To win the Afrobasket and be qualified for the Olympics at the age of 25 is such a great achievement.
"And in addition, being named MVP and member of the All Star Five of the tournament! I can't find my words.
"This goes far beyond basketball. I will never forget this night."
Tunisia, beaten by Angola in the Semi-Finals two years ago in Libya, stamped their authority on Sunday's game from the off.
They raced into a 21-9 lead by the end of the first quarter and never looked back.
With Mohamed Hadidane (15pts) and Amine Rzig (14pts) also making huge contributions on offense, Tunisia gave themselves a perfect platform for victory.
The implications are huge for Tunisia.
The fact that the north African country is going to have a team in the men's basketball tournament in London still hasn't sunk in for the players, or the fans.
"Playing in the Olympics is something I could not even dream of," Mejri said.
"To be in London playing the best teams in the world ... I can't describe this feeling, I haven't realized it yet."
Nigeria, meanwhile, bounced back from their Semi-Final disappointment against Angola by beating Ivory Coast, 77-67, to capture bronze.
The victory also earned them a trip to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Derrick Obasohan of Nigeria had a disappointing Semi-Final but he led his country with 19 points against Ivory Coast.
"It was really tough to focus today," he said.
"It took the whole of me to accept that we are going to play only for third place.
"We wanted to go for gold, and a direct qualification for the Olympics.
"But we knew that a place for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament was at stake, so we came ready to play despite yesterday's tough loss.
"That tells us a lot about our team. We are a lot more than a team, we are a family.
"Today was not about bronze, it was all about preserving our chance to go to London."