TUNIS (Olympics) - African champions
Tunisia are building some winning momentum ahead of the Olympics in London at the expense of Ivory Coast.
On Monday night in Tunis, Adel Tlatli's men beat the Afrobasket 2013 hosts 65-46 following triumphs on Friday (81-64) and Saturday (76-56).
While Tunisia are preparing for the biggest moment in their nation's hoops history, participation in the Olympic Games, their Ivorian opponents have one eye on next year's Afrobasket.
Tunisia's preparations have been underway since mid-May, and there are 16 players in the squad.
However, both Mohamed Hadidane and Afrobasket 2011 MVP Salah Mejri are still to join.
Hadidane has had commitments with his club in Morocco while Mejri is in America showcasing his skills to NBA teams.
Mejri will not be available for the Stankovic Cup in China, which tips off at the start of July, but will attempt to be with the team when it faces Spain on the 13th of the month.
“I definitely hope to be there,” he said to FIBA.com while travelling from Denver to Dallas.
“I am in regular contact with my national team, especially with coach Tlatli.”
Mejri is coming off two successful seasons with Belgium club Antwerp Giants, although the wider basketball community knows him because of his dominating display at the Afrobasket last year in Madagascar.
To cap a fantastic tournament, Mejri had 15 rebounds and seven blocks in the gold-medal game triumph over Angola.
Now, at 26, the 2.17m center wants to turn a childhood dream into reality and play in the NBA.
Last week he had two tryouts with the New York Knicks, followed by another with the Denver Nuggets and one with the Dallas Mavericks.
However, it’s with the Utah Jazz that he’ll be playing in a summer league in early July.
“I am having such good feedback from coaches, which makes me even determined to move on," Mejri said.
“If I don’t make it now [to the NBA], because I am 26, I don’t think I will make it later.
“I am working very hard, but sometimes it is all about chance, not about a player’s potential or hard work.
“There are many guys in my position trying hard.”
Asked what he hopes to do if his attempt to make it to the NBA does not pay off, Mejri said he will try top leagues in Europe.
“I had two good seasons in Belgium, after going from African basketball to the European which was not an easy experience,” he said.
“I love Antwerp.
“My club has been very supportive throughout and I hope to take my career to a top league.”
Tunisia will play the United States, France, Argentina and two teams that come out from the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela.
“I can't wait for the Olympics,” Mejri said.