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Salah Mejri (TUN)
01/06/2012
TUN - Mejri rates the chances of Angola, Nigeria

ANTWERP (Olympics/FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament) - Salah Mejri led Tunisia to their first Olympic qualification with dominant displays in the low post last summer at the Afrobasket in Madagascar.

The 2.17m center averaged 8.9 points, nine rebounds and 2.43 blocks as the Tunisians swept all before them to capture the gold medal, including a 67-56 triumph over 10-time champions Angola in the Final.

Will the African sides at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Caracas, Venezuela, have a realistic shot of joining Tunisia in London?

"Angola is a good team," Mejri said to FIBA.com.

"Even though I think they are feeling the age factor, they still can make it to London."

Mejri isn't very hopeful at all for Nigeria, though.

"It will be a bit difficult for Nigeria because they don't play as a team," the big pivot said.

"Possibly the players who played at the Afrobasket won't be the same playing at the OQT.

"It seems that they don't have respect for the national team.

"Unfortunately, this seems to be a problem that affects some African national teams."

There is a wealth of talent when it comes to players that could suit up for African countries, yet a lack of organization has plagued many in the past.

"For instance, if Senegal were able to put all their good players together and build a team, they could dominate Africa for at least a decade," Mejri said.

Tunisia heroes

All that Mejri needs to be concerned about is Tunisia and its first-ever Olympic appearance.

Their accomplishment last year has made the players national heroes.

Mejri was awesome, but Tunisia were not a one-man show.

Another player who sparked the national side was Macram Ben Romdhane, a 2.04m power forward who led the team in scoring at 12.7 points per contest.

Ben Romdhane is just 23 years of age.

"I heard he had offers to play in the Spanish second division, Qatar and Saudi Arabia," Mejri said.

"He is in his last year at university, and this may be reason for him to remain in Tunisia. He loves his home town. One day he will leave.

"He is a humble person, very polite and cool kind of guy.

"I know him well as we are originally from the same part of Tunisia."

The Coach

Maybe the biggest hero of all is Adel Tlatli, the coach who has worked tirelessly for Tunisia and made believers out of the players.

"He is the man who changed my life," Mejri said.

"He called me to the national when I did not even play at my club, but after that moment everything changed.

"I have to be grateful for him, and my current coach (Antwerp Giants coach Eddy Casteels) who has been doing a lot to me."

Tunisia will play against Argentina, France, the United States and two sides that earn tickets to London at the OQT.


FIBA
 

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